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Parliamentary Replies

Fund Allocation To Agencies Based on Qualitative Indicators

07 Nov 2016

Parliamentary Question by Ms Kuik Shiao-Yin:

To ask the Minister for Finance (a) whether the Ministry has explored using qualitative indicators versus quantitative performance indicators to determine how funding is allocated for different agencies; and (b) how has the Ministry worked with the Ministry of Social and Family Development, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and Ministry of Education to measure social and cultural impact.

Parliamentary Reply by Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat:

The Government strives to ensure that public monies are well spent to achieve their intended outcomes. In our evaluation of programmes for funding, we are open to considering all forms of performance indicators that help provide a more holistic assessment of their impact. This includes both qualitative as well as quantitative indicators.

While current performance indicators tend to be quantitative in nature, we complement these with qualitative indicators.  For example, when looking at public housing, we use both quantitative data, which include home ownership rates and debt servicing ratio for applicants for new flats, and qualitative indicators which include regular surveys of residents on factors such as satisfaction with the living environment. Both quantitative and qualitative indicators are considered to refine our housing policies and programmes, improve town designs and guide how we allocate resources for public housing. 

Each Ministry is accountable for its respective outcomes.  MOF supports each Ministry’s work in their development of performance indicators that balance between helping to capture their impact, while not being too onerous to track.  These are regularly reported for each Ministry as part of the annual Revenue and Expenditure Estimates released during Budget. In addition, every two years, the Ministry of Finance works with agencies to publish the Singapore Public Sector Outcomes Review (SPOR), which takes stock of Government programmes. This includes social and cultural impact, which is measured through a wide range of indicators such as healthcare affordability, the resilience of families, and the incidence of volunteerism.

For instance, to track efforts in strengthening families, the Ministry of Social and Family Development monitors indicators such as social attitudes towards family life from periodic surveys. The Ministry of Education tracks indicators such as the number of students who progress to secondary and post-secondary education, and the international ranking of our education system. The Ministry of Health tracks indicators on waiting times, bed occupancy rates and public satisfaction with public hospitals and polyclinics. The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth monitors volunteerism rates but also qualitative indicators such as the attitudes of youth to helping the less fortunate and contributing to society.

We are mindful that not every policy outcome can be tracked by a single set of numbers. While quantitative indicators provide a measurable and comparable basis for evaluation of an agency’s programmes, qualitative indicators can provide further insight into outcomes that are difficult to measure. We will continue to seek assessing programmes from multiple dimensions.