Keynote Address by Mr Raymond Lim, Minister, Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance and Foreign Affairs at The I-Government Forum 2006, on Tuesday, 30 May 2006, at 9.30 am, at Raffles City Convention Centre30 May 2006
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am happy to join you today to launch iGov2010, the 5 year infocomm technologies master plan for the Singapore Government. Our infocomm journey for the Government started with the launch of the Civil Service Computerisation Programme in 1980, followed by the first and second e-Government Action Plans in 2000 and 2003 respectively.
2. Today, we have put online some 1600, or more than 98% of all our public services. However, the aim of e-Government extends beyond the mere provision of all our services online. The ultimate goal is to delight our customers and connect with our citizens. How do we achieve this? At the heart of our e-Government efforts lies the core principle of "starting with the user in mind". We have to put ourselves in the user's shoes, constantly thinking of what he wants, what will be useful and convenient for him when he transacts with the Government.
3. It is with this strong desire to serve the public with the highest standard that our public agencies have worked untiringly together to push our e-services up the maturity ladder - from simple information publication, to interactive, fully transactional e-services, integrated e-services, and finally 3P (or Public-Private-People) integrated e-services - all with the aim of making the e-services as responsive, accessible, convenient and easy to use as possible.
4. Our annual e-Government customer perception survey conducted in March this year shows that 86% of Singaporeans who need to transact with the Government did so through electronic means. And for those who did, 85% were satisfied with the service. e-Government also improves our national e-advantage. Internationally, Singapore is recognised as a leading e-Government ? Singapore has topped the e-Government sub-index of the World Economic Forum Global IT Report for 5 consecutive years from 2002 to 2006, and has been ranked within the top 3 of the Global e-Government Leadership Report by Accenture in the last 3 years.
5. The Singapore Government Online Portal launched in October 2004 represented our focus to place the user at the centre of attention in web design and service delivery. The portal provides users with a 24 by 7 unified gateway to access a host of government information and services online, organised intuitively into clusters called "eTowns", in accordance to their journey through life - whether it is to register for National Service or to get married, buy a HDB flat, check CPF statement, file income tax returns, or access information on schools and education policies. Even if you do not know which eTown to go to, you can make use of the new taxonomy-based search engine recently launched on the portal to easily locate the contents you need.
6. "Many Agencies, One Government" is how the public sees the Government. From the public's perspective, they see the Government as one whole, not separate entities working independently of one another. To meet this "Many Agencies, One Government" vision, we have thus far implemented 15 integrated e-services which crossed our agencies' boundaries, and another 15 are being developed over the next 5 years. The completed integrated e-services include one-stop portals targeted at user groups, such as NS men, motorists, youths, senior citizens and soon-to-be married couples. We are now looking into developing portals targeted at other segments such as kids and parents. These integrated e-services are testimony to the willingness and dedication of our public agencies to provide a seamless service experience to users, saving them the need to go from agency to agency to get the total service they want.
7. For businesses, the Online Business Licensing Service launched in January 2004 has made application for licences a breeze. By reviewing business licensing requirements and reengineering the processes, entrepreneurs starting new businesses are now shielded from the transactional complexities involved in applying for various licences and permits. With the launch of EnterpriseOne in February this year, businesses can enjoy even greater ease and convenience. The EnterpriseOne Portal provides a full suite of government information and e-services for businesses, and is supported by a telephone hotline and the Enterprise Development Centres such as the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) which offer business advisory services.
8. Have we arrived at total customer orientation and citizen-centricity in our e-government journey? Well, no doubt we have progressed in our journey, but we are not there yet.
9. When the term "e-Government" was first conceived in the 1990s during the dot-com revolution, its initial focus was on establishing connectivity in infrastructure, automating paperwork, and using the Internet to conduct business. The focus of e-Government has since evolved worldwide over time towards something much more encompassing - to bring significant improvements to the way the Government operates. e-Government has moved from being IT driven, to being business-driven and IT enabled. UK has launched its "t-Government" or "transformational Government" plan, which is about transforming the business of the Government using IT. Korea has also announced its "u-Government" or "ubiquitous Government" plan, which seeks to give people ubiquitous access to one-stop, non-stop convenient public services anytime, anywhere.
10. To the Singapore Government, e-Government is fundamentally not about infocomm technologies or systems, but about the Government's approach towards serving its customers and citizens. See things from the user's perspective. Understand his needs. Keep things simple for him. Make it easy for him to apply for services and comply with regulations. Infocomm technologies make this practical and possible.
11. 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 reengineering processes at the backend. As we continue to push ourselves up the envelope of service transformation, agencies must work together to break down silos and integrate end to end. Only this way can we fully exploit the benefits that e-Government can bring to ourselves and to our citizens and businesses. And only this way, can we provide a truly one-stop service experience to users.
12. Building on the foundation of our accomplishments in e-Government thus far, we have named the new 5 year infocomm technologies masterplan for the Government "iGov2010", where "iGov" stands for "integrated Government". Under iGov2010 we will invest $2 billion to transform backend processing to achieve front-end efficiency and effectiveness. The principle to think "Customer" and "start with the user in mind" in everything we do remains the same in iGov2010. Rather, what is new is the strengthened focus and emphasis on transcending organisational structures, changing rules and procedures, to reorganise and integrate the government around customers' and citizens' needs and intentions.
13. Shifting from front-end integration to backend integration, and from integrating services to integrating government - we will create synergies, exploit new opportunities, and innovate to stay ahead, working closely with the people to decide on complex issues that affect the nation. By sharing, simplifying and standardising data, processes and systems within the government, we will derive cost efficiencies, operational effectiveness and enhance internal capabilities for better service delivery.
14. Let me cite you an example of a recent initiative that seeks to achieve greater efficiency in the government. In January this year, we consulted the general public on the proposal for a unique identification number to be issued to all establishments in Singapore. Today, different establishments are issued with different identification numbers, such as the ACRA number, the CPF employer number, the Central Registration (CR) number, and the Registry of Societies number. A Unique Establishment Identifier (or UEI) issued to establishments in Singapore would serve as a standardised means of identifying establishments across public agencies. Public agencies can share basic non-confidential information on establishments more effectively to deliver better, faster, simpler and more personalised services. Establishments would also not need to remember and use so many identifiers when interacting with the Government. 79% of respondents to the public consultation exercise indicated that a UEI would be useful to them. I am now happy to announce that we will proceed with the implementation of UEI over the next three years.
15. An integrated Government presents many new, exciting opportunities to our citizens and businesses. In 2010, personalised information and services that integrate the public, private and people sectors will be delivered in a way that is best customised to users' lifestyle needs and preferences. Customers, whether individuals or business, can transact with the government with maximum ease and convenience, any time, any where - in Singapore or overseas, 24/7 - be it in the comfort of their homes using their personal PC, on the MRT using mobile phones or PDAs, or at self-service kiosks at convenient locations across the island.
16. In our relentless pursuit to deliver ever-better services online, we will not forget those who do not have Internet access or require help in using online services. CitizenConnect which started in October 2005 will provide Singaporeans with easy access to Government online services in their neighbourhoods. The staff present at the CitizenConnect centres will help citizens and residents to access the Singapore Government Online Portal to transact with the Government. To date, 5 CitizenConnect centres have been set up at community clubs to offer free access to government online services. We will be expanding it into a network of 25 centres spread geographically across Singapore to bring even greater convenience to our citizens.
17. Beyond enhancing the quality of public services to customers, e-Government seeks to transform the very nature of the Government's relationship with its citizens. Leveraging on infocomm technologies as an enabler, we will strengthen the social compact - the bond between government and citizens, and among the citizens themselves. With changes in the global and regional landscapes, the issues and challenges facing us are becoming increasingly more complex. The Government must work on the basis that it does not know everything. To formulate new policies and enact new laws, we must seek the views and expertise of private sector experts and various constituents and stakeholders. Under iGov2010, we will leverage on infocomm technologies to continue to engage citizens effectively as an integral part of the public policy formulation process, working hand in hand with citizens to conceive fresh solutions and open up new perspectives. We will provide citizens with interesting, relevant and useful information online for them to make informed decisions and give their views and feedback anytime, anywhere.
18. The private sector will not be left behind in our quest to stay ahead at the frontiers of i-Government. We will leverage on infocomm technologies to make Singapore a great place for businesses. First of all, we will make it easier and faster for businesses to transact with the government online and to conduct their business operations. At the same time, we will collaborate with the infocomm industry in innovative projects to co-create, develop and export new solutions. Partnerships are the key in generating new synergies in service delivery as they enable the harnessing of potential and realising of opportunities beyond what the government can do on its own. We should collectively leverage on our entrepreneurship and creativity to convert our unique strengths and expertise into economic value and business opportunities.
19. iGov2010 is well positioned to strengthen Singapore's national competitive advantage, as well as its reputation as a centre of excellence and a global showcase for ideas, innovation and knowledge. Through partnerships and collaborations in the international arena, we will be a world-class city where people live, work and play through infocomm, technologically advanced and well connected to the rest of the world.
20. We have come a long way in our e-Government efforts. But infocomm technologies are not an end in itself, but a means to an end to serve our customers and citizens in the best possible way. There are tremendous opportunities for us to create greater value and achieve synergies to deliver truly seamless services as an integrated Government in iGov2010. This demands that we adopt a whole-of-government approach, and work across agency lines, in collaboration with the private and people sectors. Only by doing so, can we be an "integrated Government" - a one-stop, non-stop government at its best. Let us all work together to realise the new possibilities that await us and make this a success.
21. Thank you.