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13 September 2022 Parliamentary Replies

Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on target timelines for Government replies to appeals raised by Members of Parliament for their constituents

Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on target timelines for Government replies to appeals raised by Members of Parliament for their constituents

Parliamentary Sitting: 13 Sep 2022

Mr Murali Pillai: To ask the Prime Minister (a) whether there are stipulated timelines in the Government Instruction Manual (IM) on replies to appeals raised by Members of Parliament on behalf of their constituents; (b) if so, whether the Government monitors compliance by Government agencies and statutory boards and what have been the compliance rates respectively; and (c) what steps have been or will be taken to ensure stronger adherence to service quality standards and timelines.

Written Reply by Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education and Minister-in-charge of the Public Service.

The Public Service has put in place a set of whole-of-government service standards on replies to public feedback, including replies to appeals raised by Members of Parliament (MPs) on behalf of their constituents.

The guidelines on response times have been set taking into account the nature and complexity of the correspondence and appeals received. For more straightforward enquiries and feedback, both Ministries and Statutory Boards are given guidance to resolve and respond within 3 working days. For complex issues that require further assessment and fact-finding, agencies are given guidance to provide a reply within 3 weeks. Agencies are required to send interim replies if they are unable to respond within the stipulated time. If a solution cannot be provided, agencies should explain why the issue requires further study and be transparent with the plan of action.

Ministries and Statutory Boards are accountable to ensure that replies are provided in a timely manner. Hence, every Ministry and Statutory Board is required to appoint a Quality Service Manager (QSM) of a senior level to provide the necessary leadership and establish a strong system to ensure that appeals are adequately and properly reviewed within the agency.

Sometimes, the required information to review the appeals raised by MPs may not have been fully captured in the appeal letters, and added time is needed for agencies to contact the appellants for more information. To service citizens better, the Public Service Division is putting in place a whole-of-government digital feedback management system that templates the required information to be captured and facilitates the transmission of appeals to agencies and agencies’ replies back to MPs. We hope that this digitalisation initiative can help us improve the response to appeals raised by MPs.