Singapore SOE deployment plods on despite deadline

The government is still "actively working" with vendors to complete the S$1.3 billion project for a single operating environment for the public sector, although the education ministry has completed the migration.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

Singapore's S$1.3 billion (US$1.05 billion) project to create a standard operating environment (SOE), dubbed SOEasy, is still a work in progress despite the completion deadline of Mar. 31, 2011, having long since passed. However, a parallel SOE implementation for schools has proceeded more smoothly, completing five months ahead of schedule.

Under the SOE project so far, an Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) spokesperson told ZDNet Asia more than 70,000 public officers from over 90 government agencies have migrated to the same messaging infrastructure and standard desktop systems to date.

This is part of the government's efforts to consolidate ICT services into a single environment to enable greater efficiency in the use of such services and increase collaboration among public sector agencies, the spokesperson added.

"Some implementation work is still ongoing, and the government is working actively with Hewlett-Packard to accelerate the process of implementation," she noted, but did not provide a timeline for the project's completion.

The SOEasy project started in February 2008 and was originally meant to standardize desktop, network and messaging components for 60,000 public officers across 74 government agencies.

Janet Chiew, Asia-Pacific research manager at IDC's Government Insights, noted in an earlier report the SOE rollout could have been delayed by HP's 2008 acquisition of EDS, which had led the consortium awarded the 8-year project to overhaul the government's IT systems. She said then SOEasy was an unlucky victim of the HP-EDS merger, especially since Singapore is located further away from the IT vendor's headquarters in the United States.

Schools transitioned to SSOE
On the schools' end, IT vendor NCS and the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced in August 2012 the completion of the transition phase for all 351 schools in the SSOE project, which impacted over 500,000 students.

The MOE had in 2010 kicked off an S$850 million SOE initiative, as part of its masterplan for ICT in the education sector. The SSOE implementation covers the computing devices, such as notebooks and desktops, network, IT support and identity management for all government and government-aided schools, a MOE spokesperson said.

"We used the feedback from the nine pilot schools to refine the processes, solutions and change management, as well as address teething problems prior to mass deployment," the spokesperson added.

The MOE earlier stated the nine schools in the pilot program include Hong Kah Secondary School; Hua Yi Secondary School; Juying Primary School; Loyang Secondary School; St. Andrew's Junior College; St. Hilda's Primary School; St. Margaret’s Secondary School; Tampines Junior College; and Yishun Town Secondary School.

As part of the mass deployment, over 120,000 devices were issued to more than 40,000 principals, teachers and administrative staff, who were educated on the use of the new services under the SSOE program, noted NCS, which was awarded the tender in June 2010.

Lim Teck Soon, SSOE program director at MOE, said during the August announcement: "With SSOE, schools can now look forward to faster speed, enhanced security and full on-site support for their computing needs to enhance teaching and learning. A strong focus on users' needs and the close partnership between NCS and MOE had enabled the entire program to be implemented successfully."

The MOE spokesperson added the deployment of the computing devices was completed on Jun. 1, 2012--five months ahead of the original schedule. The schools' messaging platform had earlier been standardized with Google Apps, she added.

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