S'pore to invest US$390M in new IT projects

The government has set aside this amount for various new deployments, including plans to strengthen the national security framework.

SINGAPORE--The public sector is expected to award new IT contracts worth S$620 million (US$389.7 million) this year, spanning various projects that include technology upgrades and an integrated security system.

A large chunk of this budget will go to five government agencies: the Ministry of Defense (Mindef), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Education (MOE), National Library Board (NLB) and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), said Chan Yeng Kit, IDA's chief executive, during an industry briefing Tuesday. The Authority oversees technology purchases and deployments for Singapore's major government bodies.

According to Tan Kar Joo, director of e-government policies and programs at IDA, these agencies are expected to spend about S$400 million (US$251.4 million), about two-thirds of the total budget. An estimated 270 tenders will be called in the course of the year, she added.

Key projects lined up for the year include the deployment of an ERP system by Mindef, and IDA's procurement of ICT services for the various government ministries and bodies to support business applications, such as databases and system software, that are not included in a major Standard ICT Operating Environment (SOE) project announced last year. Both the Mindef and IDA projects are worth over S$10 million (US$6.3 million) each.

The MHA is also looking to build an integrated security system to link up various security components in a prison facility here.

In addition, a tender will also be called for consultancy services to establish a business model, governance policies and technical standards for a national authentication framework. Chan explained that this will help the MHA and IDA develop a nationwide infrastructure to authenticate transactions and services between the government, businesses and citizens.

Robert Bredehoft, vice president of global government industry sales at Sun Microsystems, told ZDNet Asia that his company is keen to be involved in several projects under the MHA, such as plans for a logistics Web portal, the integrated security system, and a casino licensing application and approval system to be deployed in Singapore's proposed integrated resort .

Bredehoft, who was present at the industry briefing, added that Sun will engage Mindef on the ministry's plans to enhance its command and control systems. The government sector is one of four main--and growing-- industries for Sun, he said.

According to IDA's Chan, the government's announcement Tuesday follows a strong performance by the infocomm sector, which grew 8.9 percent in 2005 to reach "an all-time high" of S$37.9 billion (US$23.8 billion). Over 7,000 new jobs were also created in this sector last year, he added. In 2004, the industry grew by 6 percent, reaching S$34.8 billion (US$21.9 billion).

"Singapore is recognized as a leader in infocomm, and it is important to continue exploiting the potential of infocomm technologies for operational efficiencies," Chan said.

He added that the government last year dished out about S$1 billion (US$628.6 million) worth of contracts, nearly 43 percent more than the forecasted S$700 million (US$440 million). The amount excludes the S$1.5 billion (US$942.9 million) SOE tender to standardize the desktop, messaging and networking ICT operating environment across government agencies.

Race narrows to four runners
Meanwhile, the race for the SOE project has picked up momentum, as IDA's Chan revealed that four groups have been shortlisted for the next stage of the tender.

Two consortiums, led by Atos Origin and Crimson Logic, from the original list of candidates have been dropped.

According to Chan, the remaining four "met the criteria for the pre-qualification round, such as financial capability, expertise and deployment track record". These groups are:

  • oneMeridian, led by IT services vendor Electronic Data Systems, which comprises Avanade, Cisco Systems, Microsoft and Singapore Computer Systems;
  • One Team, led by NCS and IBM, wich includes Alcatel, Cisco, Dell Computer, Lenovo, Microsoft, SingTel and Sun Microsystems;
  • Team HP, led by Hewlett-Packard Singapore (Sales), which includes Singapore Technologies Electronics, Cisco Systems and Microsoft; and
  • A consortium led by NEC Solutions Asia-Pacific, which comprises ABeam Consulting, Call Centre One, CSA Automated, Microsoft and Tele-TechCustomer Management.

According to Wu Choy Peng, IDA's deputy chief executive and government CIO, the Authority will engage the shortlisted players in discussions to refine requirements and specifications, and call for tender "toward the end of the year". IDA expects to award the contract by early next year and commence deployment work by mid-2007, she added.

Current plans for the SOE will impact 60,000 seats across the public sector over eight years, Choy explained. The next phase of the project will likely commence after the first tender has been awarded and a second tender will be called, she said. This next phase will affect some 100,000 seats in the education sector, she added.

The IDA expects the total SOE contract value to be about S$2 billion (US$1.3 billion), up from the initial estimated budget of S$1.5 billion.

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