Speech by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at the Inaugural Public Service Leadership Dinner
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, COORDINATING MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY, MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS AND MINISTER IN CHARGE OF THE CIVIL SERVICE
AT THE INAUGURAL PUBLIC SERVICE LEADERSHIP DINNER
24 NOVEMBER 2014 AT ORCHARD HOTEL _“Building a Stronger Public Leadership Corps for the Future – Combining the Strengths Of Specialists And Generalists”_
Chairman and Members of the Public Service Commission
Head of Civil Service
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Good evening to all of you. I am happy to join you at the very first Public Service Leadership Dinner. This dinner brings together all our officers on the Public Service Leadership Programme (or PSLP in short) for the very first time.
PUBLIC SERVICE LEADERSHIP FOR THE FUTURE: COMBINING THE STRENGTHS OF SPECIALISTS AND GENERALISTS
Why we introduced the PSLP
2. The Public Service aims to build a Stronger Public Leadership for the Future, by Combining the Strengths of Both Specialists and Generalists. In April last year, we started the Public Service Leadership Programme, to prepare leaders in key sectors and areas across the whole Public Service. Together, the PSLP and the Administrative Service will help ensure that Singapore continues to have outstanding leadership in the Public Service – both specialists and generalists. I had the opportunity to work with many of you in different capacities, in different agencies and ministries over the years, and I recognise the good work and dedication of all of you.
3. The Public Service has always recognised the importance of the deep expertise and leadership among our officers in our professional and specialist services, operational departments and regulatory agencies. We want to develop outstanding future Directors-General of telecoms, energy market regulation, customs, education; water, transport and system engineers, architects and urban planners to be the best that they can be for Singapore and Singaporeans.
4. Grouping our specialist officers by sectors provides more opportunities for officers to move between agencies in the same sector for career development. This allows us to harness the synergies within each sector. And 5 sectors emerged quite naturally – namely, Economy Building, Infrastructure and Environment, Social, Security, and Central Administration.
5. The general phase of the PSLP replaced the Management Associates Programme, to provide good grounding for officers in their initial years, whether they continue as specialists or as generalists. The PSLP is also an improvement over the previous ministry ‘HiPo’ programmes to develop officers who demonstrate high potential.
Working Together as One Public Service – combining the strengths of deep specialisation and a whole-of-government perspective
6. Today, the external and domestic challenges that our Public Service deals with are increasingly complex and diverse. And many issues are inter-connected. Finding good solutions requires cross-boundary thinking. But at the same time, deeper specialisation is needed to understand and tackle these complex challenges thoroughly. Public officers not only have to take care of one particular concern, but also consider how to manage the inter-linkages with other related issues. For example, improving Singapore’s productivity and shaping our population policies are multi-sectoral, multi-agency issues.
7. The PSLP which develops specialist leaders, and the Administrative Service which develops generalist leaders who can integrate work across multiple sectors, thus complement each other. The PSLP also offers another option for officers. An officer may move between the two tracks – PSLP and Administrative Service – depending on the officer’s interest and aptitude.
8. Let me cite just one example of how sectoral leaders with deep specialist expertise have made a huge impact. This is our journey towards greater resilience in our water supply. Today, we are able to confidently provide for our water needs from diverse sources.
9. The turning point in this journey was when we brought all our water agencies together under one roof as this integration allowed us to “close the water loop” with NEWater. We are now able to produce NEWater and desalinated water at reasonable cost, providing two out of our four ‘National Taps’.
10. Our Deep Tunnel Sewerage System is another example. It requires a different kind of engineering expertise. The biggest of these tunnels are roughly the same size as our MRT tunnels and run even deeper. This underground superhighway of huge deep tunnels allows us to collect and reclaim our used water, while freeing up above-ground space for other purposes. When completed in 2024, the DTSS will reduce the land required for used water infrastructure by more than half. By the innovative application of technology, we mitigate both our water and land challenges through this one integrated solution.
11. Our Public Service will continue to need more of such deep expertise, accompanied by strong whole-of-government thinking, to ensure that Singaporeans continue to enjoy a high quality of living in the future. Our Smart Nation initiative is another clear example of this. PM just announced it today. So are long-term and innovative solutions for urban transportation and a climate friendly city. These are major things that we need to do to make our city liveable and make us the most liveable city in the world. We must continue to remain at the forefront of the world’s most liveable cities, and make our city an attractive place for ourselves and for our children for the future.
12. Since the launch of the PSLP in April 2013, we have started to put in place the structures and processes for systematically developing sectoral and specialist leaders better. We have identified specialist job families and career pathways for officers from each specialisation. Officers can also benefit from a suite of sectoral training and development programmes. And HCS will say more about some of the key initiatives that are led by the sectoral leadership committees, which also include the professional leaders of each of these professional services.
13. More importantly, when we designed the PSLP, we wanted to make sure that these efforts would benefit all officers in the different job families, whether or not they are on the PSLP. For example, the career tracks for HR officers benefit the whole HR community of some 1,000 HR officers in the ministries, and another 1,200 in the Statutory Boards. Yes, it does take so many officers to manage our officers. And we still need to do a better job. That is why we want to make HR a specialist area in which we have good people who will help to manage our officers better.
14. The milestone training courses in each sector will also benefit all officers in that community, and not just those on the PSLP. And this will help raise the capabilities of public officers as a whole.
15. In September, I had the opportunity to have a dialogue with officers from the security sector participating in the first National Security Milestone Programme. It was a fascinating discussion because for the first time officers got together from the different agencies in the same sector. They said that the Programme helped them better understand the linkages across the security sector, from community policing to border security and overseas diplomacy. This Programme thus benefits officers in the security community as a whole, and not just the PSLP officers.
DOING YOUR PART FOR A BETTER PUBLIC SERVICE
16. But ultimately, the PSLP is not about courses or systems or processes. It’s about you, our officers. We want to develop capable public service leaders who have the knowledge, the aptitude, and the skills to serve Singapore and Singaporeans better. And also the vision, commitment and dedication to continue to want to make Singapore better, to do something different and innovative, that has brought Singapore to where we are today.
17. We actively look for officers in all agencies and schemes of service who are suitable for the PSLP, so that we can develop your full potential.
18. As you progress in your organisations and sectors, we expect you to exercise leadership, initiative; inspire your teams. We want you to be a catalyst, encouraging everyone around you, through your example, to perform at an even higher level than you do today. And I don’t mean working harder but working better together, being more integrated, more focused in how we work so that we achieve better outcomes for all of us. Together, our PSLP officers and Administrative Service officers are part of a strong leadership team for the Public Service.
19. And let me end by congratulating the 172 officers appointed to the PSLP this year. They join other officers already on the PSLP. Welcome to the Public Service leadership community. We look forward to your contributions, all of you, to serve Singapore and Singaporeans, as individual officers, as public service leaders, and as part of one collective Public Service. Thank you very much and all the best.