PSD's Addendum to the President's Address - 28 August 2020

28 August 2020

Prime Minister’s Office 
(Public Service Division) (Science & Technology Policy & Plans Office)

Addendum to the President’s Address

Mr Chan Chun Sing
Minister for Trade and Industry and Minister-in-charge of the Public Service

1 Our Public Service faces a more volatile external environment, a domestic population with higher expectations, and a need to deliver its work well, within tighter resource constraints. 

2 Externally, Singapore will need to navigate the increasing contestation of great powers in geopolitics, trade, technology, and security. We will have to work with likeminded partners to uphold the global rules-based geopolitical and trade order. 

3 Domestically, Singaporeans desire greater diversity in perspectives and engagements in policy formulation. We will have to not only deliver higher quality and more integrated public services, but also to engage Singaporeans more thoroughly in the formulation and execution of policies. 

4 A shrinking labour force and ageing population will constrain the size of our Public Service and the share of talent that our Public Service can reasonably take from the broader economy. We have to leverage advancements in science and technology (S&T) to overcome the constraints of manpower and financial resources. 

Transforming Ourselves to Emerge Stronger Together 

5 Our Public Service will organise itself differently. We are building stronger common competencies across our Public Service that are needed by all agencies. For instance, we have set up the Public Sector S&T Policy and Plans Office (S&TPPO) to coordinate the planning of S&T capabilities, aggregate demand for greater efficiency as well as train a strong pool of S&T experts. In addition, we will tighten our focus on solving problems beyond agency boundaries. This will mean that cross-agency teams will become more common, as we take the right people with the right experiences and skills to develop policies and programmes that address national challenges to meet our people’s needs.

6 Our Public Service must work with citizens, businesses and other stakeholders differently. We will conduct early and close consultations to understand their needs, hear their ideas, and work with them to design programmes. We will also need to work with and through them to implement programmes together for greatest impact. For instance, through close partnership with the unions and employers, some 13,000 jobseekers – including new graduates, mid-career jobseekers, and retrenched workers – have been placed into new jobs and training opportunities. 

7 Our Public Service will recruit and develop its people differently. We will recruit candidates from diverse backgrounds so that we have a Public Service workforce that can bring different perspectives to problems and contribute different skills to create new solutions to problems. As our environment changes very fast, we will invest more in skills upgrading to enable our officers to stay employable over a longer career. We will rotate officers to different jobs, so that they gain a wider perspective, and get more opportunities to work with partners in the people and private sectors. This will keep them close to the ground, and give them a diverse body of networks, skills and experiences to solve problems effectively. 

Strengthening Our Fundamentals 

8 Our Public Service will transform the way it works and its people, but our values of Integrity, Service and Excellence will never change. We will deepen our Public Service ethos in our people and groom leaders who can lead their organisations to deliver well today, while building new capabilities to prepare for tomorrow’s challenges. We will strengthen Public Service values, competencies, and accountability among our leaders through wider adoption of 360 feedback and coaching. 

9 We are committed to build a future-ready Public Service that will serve Singapore and Singaporeans well into the future.