S'pore unveils new US$1.3B e-govt plan

The administration aims to integrate back-end processes of public sector agencies over the next five years, making it easier for citizens to transact with the government.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

SINGAPORE--The Singapore government has embarked on a new five-year masterplan that promises to re-engineer back-end processes of public sector agencies to present a more integrated user experience for its citizens.

Some S$2 billion (US$1.3 billion) will be invested in the initiative, dubbed the integrated Government 2010, or iGov2010. Changes in the pipeline include 15 new integrated e-government services for the public over the next five years, a revamp of the Singapore government portal, and the introduction of a single SMS (short message service) number for government services by the end of this year.

The plans are aimed at helping the government to better connect with citizens and strengthen Singapore's competitive advantage globally, Raymond Lim, Second Minister for Finance and Foreign Affairs, said at the unveiling of iGov2010 on Tuesday.

E-government today is more than just automating processes or using the Internet to conduct business, Lim said. The focus of e-government worldwide, he noted, has evolved to bringing "significant improvements to the way the government operates".

Singapore has made progress in its e-government efforts, but more can be done, added Lim. "Creating a one-stop experience is different from developing a first-stop portal. We have to move beyond bundling information and services at the front-end, to re-engineering processes at the back end," he said.

iGov 2010 is the third nation-wide IT initiative by the government, following the e-Government Action Plan I and II in 2000 and 2003 respectively. The government had pumped around $2.6 billion (US$1.6 billion) into the consecutive three-year projects.

"What's new is the strengthened focus and emphasis on transcending organizational structures, changing rules and procedures, reorganize and integrate the government around customers' and citizens' needs and intentions," he explained.

For example, businesses will over the next three years be issued one single registration number that can be used to interface with different government agencies, said Lim. Currently, businesses are issued different sets of identification numbers. For instance, a business can own a number issued by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, one from the Department of Statistics for survey purposes, and another by the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board for employers. The CPF Board is a national body that manages the social security savings plans of working Singaporeans.

According to a statement from the IDA, an open tender will be called in the first quarter of 2007 to develop a system to issue the Unique Establishment Identifier (UEI) as well as tools to convert the existing numbers held by the various agencies. By January 2009, all establishments will be issued with a UEI.

Increasing the reach of e-services
Singaporeans are increasingly going online to access public services. According to the latest annual e-government customer perception survey, nine out of 10 who needed to transact with the government over the last year did so electronically, said Wu Choy Peng, deputy chief executive of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and government CIO. Nearly nine in 10 who have interfaced with the government via electronic means indicated they were satisfied with the quality of service, she noted.

During the last three years, 15 new integrated e-services were introduced, including a business licensing service, a consultation portal, a dedicated site for those who need to attend to a demise, and a portal for renewal and termination of licenses. An integrated e-service refers to a one-stop avenue to facilitate a process or transaction even if various public sector agencies are involved.

The iGov2010 will drive the innovation of e-services and provide the framework for new services, noted Lim Hup Seng, deputy secretary for performance at the Ministry of Finance, and chairman of the iGov2010 Project Steering Committee. "It's about making the service more attractive for people to [transact]," he said.

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