Speech By Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at Public Service Leadership Dinner 2016
Speech By Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Coordinating Minister for National Security And Minister in Charge of The Civil Service, Public Service Leadership Dinner 2016
“Working Together As an Integrated Public Service - Creating Space and Opportunities for Singapore”
Chairman PSC Mr Eddie Teo,
Head Civil Service Mr Peter Ong,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good evening. I am happy to join you for this Public Service Leadership Dinner and to see many familiar faces in the audience. Many of you whom I’ve worked with over the years.
2. I would like to congratulate the 122 officers appointed to the Public Service Leadership Programme or PSLP.
Building a strong public sector leadership community
3. PSLP is more than just a talent management programme. PSLP started in 2013 as we wanted to develop officers who are experts in specialised domains.
4. You are not working alone or just within your agencies. You are also part of a wider community of public sector leaders. You have important responsibilities, including the younger ones here.
5. The public and our officers look up to you for leadership, for knowledge and for guidance. You deliver public sector outcomes and bring Singapore forward, working in partnership with our other colleagues in the Public Service, including our colleagues in the Administrative Service.
6. Bringing our Public Service leadership community together tonight provides a useful opportunity to reflect on our challenges. We are facing global uncertainties – Slower, anaemic growth in major economies – the blame being placed on globalisation, sometimes on technology. It is marked by antipathy towards a more integrated global economy and shared prosperity, which is a surprise because people across countries all over the world have benefited over decades, from freer trade and a more integrated global system.
7. At home, we are embarking on a new phase of economic and social development.
8. We need to work in an integrated manner and turn our constraints into opportunities and strengths. We have had success in the past and we can do so for the future – transforming, restructuring and reinventing ourselves.
Working together to address cross-cutting issues
9. The objective is to make sure that we can continue to create space and expand the opportunities for Singapore and Singaporeans.
10. It’s not just what each agency or unit is trying to achieve, but what we are trying to achieve collectively, as a Whole of Government (WOG), and as a Whole of Nation. This has differentiated us as a Public Service and as a nation from many other countries. We are able to get our act together, and act together.
11. We plan ahead and cohere to a common understanding of where we are headed. At the same time, we need sufficient flexibility, innovation, and adaptability of mind to be creative, innovative and flexible in our approach.
12. While we work in our own ministries, agencies and domains, cross-cutting areas set the context in which we work. These are the cross-cutting areas that the Head of Civil Service, the Prime Minister’s Office-Strategy Group, and our central ministries, such as the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service Division, have to manage to ensure coordination and coherence across the WOG.
13. What are some of these areas? You are familiar with the more established ones on budget, manpower and land.
(a) More established areas of budget, manpower and land
(i) Manage Finances and Budget well
14. While each of us would like more resources for our own ministries and agencies, we know that we have to retain overall budget discipline. Our demands will continue to grow, and we do expect to spend more to cater to, for example, our ageing population.
15. We are fortunate that we have always been prudent and have been able to put aside resources for all these things – CPF Life, Housing, Medisave, Medishield Life, and set aside enough for the Pioneer Generation Programme.
16. But, we must always remember to work within our means. That has been one of our cornerstones which has allowed us to progress from generation to generation. As a family, a country or an individual, if you consume from the future, you leave the next generation in debt. If you save and invest in the future, you leave them assets which they can develop further. The President also helps to safeguard the use of reserves to maintain this virtuous cycle.
(ii) Manage and develop our officers well
17. We have to manage and develop our officers well.
18. Our citizen population and our workforce growth have slowed. The Public Service, as a whole, cannot grow faster than our total citizen workforce, if we are not to take an increasingly larger share of our citizen workforce. We have to review our manpower needs and how we develop and deploy our officers.
19. For example, we need to think creatively about how to tap and use older officers. We also have to think about flexi-work and part-load work arrangements. These will open up new resource pools and also provide more employment opportunities.
(iii) Maximise land resource
20. We have to optimise existing spaces and encourage dual use. A good example is the sports fields in schools which are also used by the community during weekends.
21. We need to innovate, intensify and share this precious resource and create new spaces. For example, we are putting floating platforms with solar photovoltaic cells in reservoirs, underground caverns for ammunition and crude oil storage. Where appropriate, polders are a complement to reclamation.
(b) Planning for the Long term (Population, Ageing Society)
(i) Prepare early for Population issues and Active Ageing
22. We also need to plan for the long term such as population and the ageing society.
23. We are encouraged by the highest number of babies in 13 years in our Jubilee year. But birth rates are still below replacement. A key area that can make a difference is the increased provision of infant-care and childcare, for it to be more comprehensive, accessible and affordable for our dual-income families.
24. This will require a comprehensive cross-agency effort. It’s not the issue of just Early Childhood Development Agency, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social and Family Development or Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. We can see how to address this together - land agencies to help make space available; the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Manpower to adjust employer attitudes.
(c) Need to work together on new areas on security, climate change and seize opportunities in the Digital and Future Economy
25. There are new cross-cutting areas across agencies. These include security challenges, climate change and seizing opportunities in the digital and future economy.
26. We have to internalise security risks and considerations as there is increasing risk of cyber and terrorist attacks, and these pose a serious and long-term threat. Those from the police will know that crime rates have been falling in every segment of crime, except for cyber-crime which has been increasing.
27. We have set up the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) but it is not only CSA’s issue to keep us safe. Each agency and sector need to be cognisant of the threats, work together to protect ourselves, and build resilience to recover when an attack occurs. Are you ready if your agency is attacked? Will you be able to keep your agency operating? Everyone suffers if the weakest link is breached. We must each be ready and strong, for all of us to be strong.
(i) Transiting to a low-carbon society
28. We are also transiting to a low-carbon society. The Paris agreement to reduce global carbon emissions has been ratified and will enter into force this Friday. The International Civil Aviation Organisation and the International Maritime Organisation have also agreed to work on reducing emissions from the aviation and maritime sectors. All these will impact our work and we need to adjust our trajectories for industrial growth.
29. Singapore too, has pledged to reduce emissions per GDP dollar by 36 % from 2005 levels by 2030, and to stabilise emissions with the aim of peaking by then. This is an ambitious target which will require all of us to contribute.
30. Agencies have to work together to implement measures to reduce emissions across all sectors so that we do so in the most cost-effective manner.
31. The Public Sector can take the lead in our projects. This will help save costs and if managed well, there will be opportunities for green growth.
(ii) Preparing to be a Smart Nation
32. Finally, a cross-cutting issue which provides many new opportunities is how we move towards a Smart Nation. The digital and future economy can drive growth, innovation and greater productivity. It will transform the way we work and deliver public services, and create many new economic opportunities.
Working as an Integrated Public Service. What can you do as PSLPs?
33. These are the cross-cutting issues that we need to deal with in an integrated way to create new possibilities, new economic and social space for ourselves.
34. What can Public Service leaders do? You have your own agencies and domains. You want to do your best in your agencies and fulfil your agencies’ mission. But we will also need to work together across agencies.
35. Each of you are specialists in your own domains but we also need to constantly look out for opportunities to create new value across domains and agencies.
36. We also need to make more strategic use of technology to transform our agencies and the Public Service.
37. Let me elaborate.
38. First, we work hard in our agencies to fulfil our missions. Previously, roads, transport, sewerage and drainage were centralised in the Public Works Department. As we became more specialised over time, we spawned off different agencies to deal with each of these, but we still need to integrate across issues.
39. You depend on others and others depend on you to get your work and our collective work done.
40. As horizontal groups addressing cross-cutting areas, lead your agencies and teams to contribute towards an effective WOG response. You are at the level where you can get things going. Regardless of which agency or sector you are in, understand the impact of these cross-sector issues.
41. Look for opportunities to help colleagues from other agencies. Look for opportunities to drive innovation and co-opt the private sector community and fellow Singaporeans. Don’t wait. Offer your resources and expertise especially in times of need.
42. One example was during SARS. The Defence Science Organisation put together a good thermal sensor and they offered this as a solution for mass screening for fevers. This revolutionised the way we managed crowds and made people feel safe.
43. Second, as Public Service Leaders, develop your expertise and the expertise of your juniors in your own domain. But also be cognisant that the most exciting developments are often taking place not within each of your domains, but between domains.
44. The Info-comm and Technology sector is one good example. We had the National Computer Board and the Telecommunication Authority of Singapore in different ministries. We also had media and broadcasting. But the exciting opportunities were happening between these three areas – computers, broadcasting and media, and telecommunications. We formed the Info-comm Development Authority, which developed into the current Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore.
45. Besides these structural responses to changes in the environment, you should extend your boundaries as technology advances and look for collaborative opportunities.
46. One example is HDB and EDB which are driving the adoption of solar power through the SolarNova programme. They pursued demand aggregation, instead of having different agencies call individual tenders. This will increase solar adoption from just 19 MWp in 2014 to 350 MWpeak by 2020. Despite the low oil prices, the cost of electricity from solar power is still lower than the prevailing retail electricity price. This will help meet 5 % of our projected peak electricity demand, reduce carbon emissions and strengthen Singapore’s position as a clean energy hub.
47. Third, understand technology and use it strategically to transform the way your agency sees its mission and the way it delivers its services. You can even change the question that you need to answer. Redefine the mission that you have, so that with technology and new ways of working, you can meet that critical demand better.
48. An example is ambulance services. If you define your problem as how fast I can get an ambulance to a person, we may not be able to do it fast enough. But if you redefine the problem as how fast can help be provided to a person who has an issue, then you can think of other solutions such as the myResponder App, and placing Automated External Defibrillators in many locations in Singapore. This will help bring assistance to individuals much faster than an ambulance could arrive there. This is also a very powerful way of involving the public, family members and the community to help others.
49. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a very interesting example. If you learn CPR, you can never apply it on yourself. You learn CPR only to apply it on someone else. We need many people to learn CPR, so that when you need it, somebody will help you. Learning CPR is therefore altruistic. You depend on others to learn it in order to achieve a collective effect. Thus, we need to find new solutions and technology, and motivate others to step forward, through crowd sourcing, to do their part.
50. LTA’s street-lamps, for example, can be used for more than just providing lighting. They can be key nodes for sensors and be used to deliver digital services. They have high vantage points, and they have power and cabling. With good ideas and a WOG mindset, we can realise and harness their potential.
51. Lead agencies can also open up large public sector projects such as Jurong Innovation District, Changi Airport Terminals 4 and 5, and new Tuas port to provide real-life environments to work with R&D institutes and the private sector to deploy innovations. This can help Singapore compete, and provide us with new services and capabilities that our companies and agencies can market abroad.
52. We are embarking on a new phase of economic and social development. Regardless of the sector you are in, understand the impact of these cross-cutting issues - finance, manpower, land, population, ageing, security, climate change, and smart government, and how you can contribute to them, benefit from them and serve your agency and our country better.
53. Work hard in your agency, but work together across agencies as well. Deepen your domain knowledge. At the same time, constantly look for opportunities to create new value across domains and agencies. Make strategic use of technology to transform your missions. Together, we can create new economic and social space as One Public Service, for All of Singapore and Every Singaporean.
54. Thank you.