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GovTech to be the implementing agency for new Smart Nation and Digital Government Office

The Singapore government is carrying out organisational restructuring to enable the Government to be more integrated and responsive in strategy and processes for its Smart Nation and Digital Government (SNDG) objectives.

A new body, called the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) will be formed under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), comprising staff from the Digital Government Directorate of the Ministry of Finance (MOF), the Government Technology Policy department in the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), and the Smart Nation Programme Office (SNPO) in the PMO. All these changes will take effect on May 1.

The Government Technology Agency (GovTech), which is driving digital transformation within the public sector, will be placed under the PMO and will assume the role of the implementing agency for the SNDGO. Currently, it is a statutory body under MCI. The erstwhile Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) were restructured during 2016 to form the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) and GovTech.

The SNDGO and GovTech together will form the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG).

Leadership

Minister of State (Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Education) Dr. Janil Puthucheary will be the Minister in-charge of GovTech. Dr. Puthucheary will also coordinate GovTech’s strategy with IMDA’s industry development efforts. He will be member of a Ministerial Committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Teo Chee Hean which will oversee the SNDGG.

Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Teo Chee Hean explained the rationale behind the restructuring, “The establishment of the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group will strengthen our organisational ability to plan ahead, focus resources,orchestrate inter-agency efforts, and maintain a tight linkage between planning and implementation. This change is necessary to drive the Smart Nation initiative more effectively and to exploit the increasing opportunities offered by the accelerating pace of change in digital technology, and the increasing breadth and complexity of IT and smart systems.”

Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information will be Deputy Chairman and Minister-in-charge of Cybersecurity and the IMDA. The other members of the Ministerial Committee are Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative and Minister Ong Ye Kung, who has been appointed to champion Public Service innovation.

Mr. Ng Chee Khern, currently Permanent Secretary (PS) (Defence Development) of the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), will retain his appointment as the Chairman of the GovTech Board and concurrently lead the SNDG Group as the PS (Smart Nation and Digital Government).

SNDGG’s responsibilities

Dr. Balakrishnan highlighted three programmes where he hopes to see major progress- Digital Identity, E-Payments and a national IOT/sensors system. He said, “By consolidating GovTech and the various policy, planning and implementing agencies together in PMO, we will be able to quickly and decisively roll out these digital platforms for our citizens and businesses. These platforms are foundational to the building of a Smart Nation. They will expand job opportunities and enable our citizens and businesses to innovate and create economic value in the new digital economy.”

The press release describes the SNDGG’s responsibilities as below:

  • Apply digital and smart technologies to improve citizens’ lives in key domains, in partnership with other government agencies, industry, and the public: For instance, the SNDGG will work with LTA in the area of urban mobility to leverage technologies to improve public transport, enhance urban logistics and reduce congestion.
  • Develop the digital enablers and platforms for Smart Nation, to grow economic value and catalyse innovation by companies and citizens: The SNDGG will build on the ongoing work by GovTech to enhance data sharing through data.gov.sg, and partner the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to promote e-payments. The SNDGG will also drive the development of a national digital identity framework to facilitate digital transactions and a national sensor communication backbone (the Smart Nation Platform) to support agencies’ use of Internet of Things (IoT) applications to fulfil their missions.
  • Drive digital transformation for the public service, to strengthen Government ICT infrastructure and improve public service delivery: The SNDGG will build up digital capabilities within Government, including in areas such as data science and IoT, to continue delivering excellent public services to our citizens.

Read the press release here.

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