Singapore focuses ICT spend on cloud applications

More than SG$1 billion ($742.6 million) is up for grabs as the Singapore government earmarks 30% of its ICT budget for applications that will run on its commercial cloud infrastructure.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor
Cloud computing concept
Getty Images/TU IS

Singapore's government plans to spend more than 30% of its fiscal 2023 ICT budget on cloud applications and drive efforts to move 70% of its systems to the cloud by the end of the year. 

Some SG$3.3 billion ($2.45 billion) has been set aside for the public sector's overall ICT expenditure, pushing the government's total investment over the past five years to SG$16 billion ($11.88 billion), according to Government Technology Agency (GovTech). 

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An estimated SG$3.8 billion ($2.82 billion) was spent during the past two fiscal years, as the government looked to modernize its backend infrastructure with cloud and aggregate ICT deployments through bulk tenders.

With SG$1 billion ($742.6 million) earmarked for cloud applications this fiscal year, GovTech said it's en route to hit its target of moving 70% of its systems to its commercial cloud platform. Currently, 66% of eligible government systems run on this architecture, called Government on Commercial Cloud (GCC), which is part of a five-year roadmap to move the public sector's on-premise IT systems to commercial cloud platforms. 

Running on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure, the GCC provides government agencies with a framework to adopt commercial services offered by the cloud vendors

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The Singapore government employs some 150,000 professionals across 16 ministries and more than 50 statutory boards.

GovTech expects the value of projects co-developed alongside industry players to climb 45% and account for SG$1.49 billion ($1.11 billion) of its total ICT spending this fiscal year, up from 27% and 20% in 2022 and 2021 respectively. In such initiatives, engineers from the public sector might assume responsibility for developing one component while industry players build another. 

This deployment model helps streamline development efforts by tapping the government's tech stack and its platforms for security compliance and interoperability. The approach also allows for the reuse of tested software components, so applications can be built more efficiently, Gov Tech said. 

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So far, 27 vendors are qualified to co-develop projects with the government using its tech stack, but this list will be updated with a bulk tender slated to be called this fiscal year. 

There are three main bulk tenders totaling SG$1.85 billion ($1.37 billion) planned for the year, with almost 76% or SG$2.5 billion ($1.86 billion) of public sector ICT expenditure to fund projects issued through bulk tenders, up 27% in the previous year. Such tenders cut the time, cost, and effort government agencies spend on procuring ICT services, said GovTech, noting that these tenders account for an increasing value of the sector's procurements since 2018.

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One key bulk tender will go toward enterprise SaaS offerings, where government agencies can access ready-made applications based on a subscription fee. The tender will fund CRM and service management software, among other areas, and low-code development platforms.

Environmental sustainability requirements will also be included in ICT public sector contracts starting next year, according to GovTech. Pointing to an upcoming bulk tender for PCs and printers, the government agency said suppliers will have to comply with environmental and energy standards as well as practise packaging and materials reuse. Such criteria will account for 5% of the tender evaluation. 

GovTech said it also is aiming to slash the carbon footprint of its data centres and commercial cloud infrastructure by meeting the country's BCA-IMDA Green Mark standards and optimising code reuse for cloud projects this fiscal year. 

In addition, GovTech will assess the use of containers and microservices for applications to further streamline the development process. These efforts will begin in 2024. 

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