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EXCLUSIVE - Conceptualising

EXCLUSIVE – Conceptualising, implementing and operating whole-of-government digital products and services

The Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) is responsible for driving digital transformation within the public sector in Singapore. The Government Digital Services (GDS) team at GovTech works with government agencies to build contextualised, personal services, supported by data and delivered in an agile, consistent and reliable way.

OpenGov had the opportunity to conduct an email interview with Mr. Kwok Quek Sin, Director, Product Management, GDS. Mr. Kwok discussed collaborations with the private sector, challenges in boosting adoption of digital services and his view on ‘innovation’ in the context of government.

Can you tell us about your role as Director, Product Management at GovTech?

I oversee the Product Management Division in the Government Digital Services. We conceptualise, implement and operate whole-of-government digital products and services, ranging from Identity & Authentication to Payments, Data platforms, Information Portals and Channels. These digital products aim to serve citizens and businesses better by bringing together different agencies to deliver services in a user-centric manner. 

Several GovTech services seek to offer whole-of-government platforms for the convenience of citizens. Can you tell us about collaborating with multiple government agencies and bringing them on board for integrated service offerings?

Citizens see the government as one entity, and also expect us to respond as one.

GovTech collaborates with the different agencies to provide services in an integrated manner, reducing any hassle on the citizen’s end. As with any collaboration, it starts with a shared vision and overseen by a dedicated governance.  While it is always a challenge to work across multiple agencies, I have to say that in Singapore, many agencies do put citizens’ interests as priority and that makes our work much easier.

Is GovTech planning or working to integrate government service platforms with the private sector?

In early 2016, we launched MyInfo, which promotes consent-driven data sharing across government agencies and avoids asking citizens for the same data more than once.  Progressively, more data will be available on MyInfo, and more services will be able to make use of it.

We are encouraged by the industry’s interest in tapping on the government’s source of citizen data to streamline their customer on-boarding processes, which, in our view, makes life simpler for citizens. In fact, we have begun a pilot with several banks for MyInfo to be integrated into the bank’s account opening process. This pilot enables fully end-to-end digital transactions without expensive manual handling processes and documentation. 

We are also exploring other areas of collaboration with the private sector, and will share more details in the future.

What are the challenges faced in improving citizen awareness of digital services and boosting adoption?

A challenge we encounter when boosting the adoption of digital services is fostering trust between Government and citizens. Striking a balance between the convenience of technology and data privacy/security is not simple or easy. Through a combination of policy and good judgment we must ensure that we are using data to create relevant services and policies for citizens, while still protecting their data. Another way we encourage trust and goodwill is by trying to be transparent about how we use data, so citizens always remain in the driver’s seat.

In your view, what does ‘innovation’ mean in the context of government services?

To me, innovation within the government service context means moving beyond consolidation, and towards seeing government digital transactions as part of a larger ecosystem.

One of our priorities in the coming year is to create a trusted national digital identity where individuals can easily establish their own identity and be in control of their digital activities. 

We see more and more online transactions that require a high level of identity assurance, and the availability of such high level of identity assurance can promote a secondary ecosystems of trust services, from digital signing to digital vaults and secure communications. 

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