Opening Address by Mr Peter Ong at the PS21 ExCEL Awards & Convention 2013
PS21 EXCEL AWARDS & CONVENTION 2013
14 NOVEMBER 2013
1. Friends and colleagues, a very good morning to you. I am very happy to join you here today at the PS21 ExCEL Awards & Convention 2013. I took a short tour of the exhibition booth area and I can tell you that there is a sense of passion and energy out there, and in here, the performance was also really great.
2. It is at this annual Convention that we celebrate outstanding projects in the Public Service that best demonstrate the spirit of PS21: that every public officer is capable of and empowered to innovate and improve the way we work.
Theme “Getting Ready for Tomorrow”
3. The success stories featured today and the teams behind them are undoubtedly our innovation heroes in the Public Service. They are a source of inspiration for all public officers in our journey of continuous innovation. And it is only with the improvements that innovation brings, that our Public Service can meet the challenges we face and still be future-ready. This is why this year’s PS21 ExCEL Awards & Convention is aptly themed “
4. What will tomorrow be like? Well, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his National Day Rally speech this year that Singapore is at a “turning point” and that “the road ahead will be different from the road we have travelled.” As our nation matures, the aspirations of our citizens are evolving even as we contend with the rapidly changing global environment. Some of us interact with citizens on a daily basis. Others may work on policy making or policy implementation. Regardless of your job scope, I am sure that you have been trying to anticipate and prepare for the challenges of tomorrow, and you may be wondering how you should change the way you work. This will call for new approaches and this is where the spirit of PS21 stands us in good stead.
Public Service Transformation
5. To take our good work forward, to make our change efforts bolder, more deliberate and with a greater sense of urgency, we have embarked on “Public Sector Transformation”. It is a transformation with a fresh sense of purpose – to be One Trusted Public Service with Citizens at the Centre. I would now like to take some time to elaborate on what this means.
Placing Citizens at the Centre
6. Placing citizens at the centre is more than just delivering good customer service. It is also about creating the opportunities for Singaporeans to go beyond just being customers to also be partners, collaborators and co-creators with us, as citizens with a stake. It is about harnessing the diverse desires, talents and expertise of our wider society to achieve even better public outcomes, together.
7. Exemplifying how public agencies are embracing this challenge, People’s Association’s Transformation of Community Clubs has been selected as this year’s Innovation Spotlight. Community Clubs, commonly known as CCs, used to be standalone common spaces where residents gathered to bond over events and activities, creating the ‘kampung spirit’. But today, as the needs, interests and lifestyles of residents evolve, the CC must also evolve to stay relevant. Thus, PA partnered residents, grassroots leaders and other agencies to co-create a new concept of the CC.
8. The first “Hub CC”, Senja-Cashew CC at Bukit Panjang, was thus birthed out of this community-centric approach. A partnership between PA and Singapore Sports Council, this fully integrated CC and sports complex, is a convenient, one-stop destination for all residents, from youths to active agers. So, a father can swim at the pool while his son attends a swimming lesson. At the same time, his daughters can attend a yoga class together while his wife shops at Bukit Panjang Plaza, just across the road. As the family can now pursue various interests at the same time and at the same place, the CC fulfils its original purpose of being a place where residents can congregate. In addition, being located near a transport node, it attracts more people so there are more opportunities for community interactions.
One Public Service
9. To truly be citizen-centric, we will increasingly need to work across multiple agencies as One Public Service. We must put aside differences in organisational cultures and divisions of responsibilities to give our citizens seamless and coherent experiences. For the next Hub CC - Tampines Town Hub – multiple agencies will be involved as it will bring together a CC, sports complex, library, HDB branch office, HomeTeam NS Clubhouse and the Northeast Community Development Council. This mix of facilities and services is the result of extensive engagement with Tampines residents on what they would like to have in this hub. I am certainly looking forward to its opening in 2016.
10. Take another example. Before 2012, there was no comprehensive, large scale project to enhance the safety of seniors living in HDB flats. Residents had to find solutions on their own, such as installing off-the-shelf grab bars. To make life better for seniors, administrative, healthcare and technical professionals from 4 agencies – the Ministry of National Development, Housing and Development Board, Ministry of Health and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital – came together to conceive, formulate and launch EASE, or Enhancement for Active Seniors. Now, our seniors can enjoy customised, reliable home improvements to enhance safety and convenience at affordable costs. For example, grab bars are installed according to specific users’ heights. The close collaboration between the agencies also allowed Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to refer patients who need EASE enhancements to HDB before they are discharged, so that these patients have shorter waiting times before retrofits are installed. Other public hospitals and community groups will join this network to serve even more seniors. This is a truly deserving ExCEL award winner.
11. All of us signed up to serve Singapore and Singaporeans to the best of our abilities, and not simply to receive accolades or awards. And in doing our best, we earn and maintain the trust of our citizens. This trust is built through each interaction we have with them: whether we demonstrate that we are honest, competent, and that we understand and care for Singaporeans. For Public Sector Transformation to succeed, we will need every officer to work hard at building and maintaining this trust.
12. All of us must embrace the aspiration to become One Trusted Public Service with Citizens at the Centre and live this out in our daily work. In this way, I am confident we can create a tomorrow for Singapore that we can be proud of.
13. That is why today, I am pleased to announce the launch of a new initiative by the PS21 ExCEL Committee to support Public Sector Transformation. Project Tomorrow is an initiative to energise innovation in the entire Public Service by creating new platforms to harness the ideas of all public officers, and empower them with the confidence and capabilities to be change-makers to create a better Singapore tomorrow.
14. You may have noticed some cute creatures “running around” the Public Service recently on our Intranet, Cube, as well as in your email boxes. Well if you haven’t been introduced to them yet, they are our icons for change agents. Some of you may have taken the change agent profile quiz to see which agent you identify most with. I took the quiz myself and I am an Ideator.
15. These change agents would now like to tell you a bit more about Project Tomorrow. Let me invite you to turn your attention to the screen.
16. Today, we have the Staff Suggestion Scheme or ‘SSS’, for all public officers to make suggestions for change. We want to take SSS one step further. Public officers are citizens too. We are therefore in a unique position to see issues from both perspectives - as public officers on one hand, and citizens on the other. So we want to unleash all 136,000 of us to make suggestions beyond our own agency mandates and develop solutions that can create a better Singapore. Every one of us can be a change agent, regardless of whether we are an ideator, improver, integrator or implementor.
17. So, how can we contribute our ideas? As you saw in the video, there is a new “Project Tomorrow Post ‘n’ Poll App” and the organising committee asked me to demonstrate how to use it. I have downloaded the “Project Tomorrow Post ‘n’ Poll” App.
18. Research shows that timely assistance to heart attack victims can more than double their chances of survival. And so, as you can see, I have made a suggestion about how we could speed up assistance to people suffering from heart attacks by reaching out to CPR-trained personnel in the vicinity by using an app. I’ve included a picture of a similar app that was developed in San Ramon, California as an example. As it is health-related, I will select the “health” category. Now I’ll just move on to the next screen.
19. Here, to save some time, I’ve already filled in my details so I just need to click submit. Later on, you’ll be able to view my idea on Cube.
20. I strongly encourage all of you to let your creative juices flow and contribute your ideas, big or small. We will vote on the ideas as a Service on Cube and popular ideas will be studied and may be turned into reality by the implementing agencies.
21. Another integral part of Project Tomorrow will be Public Service hackathons. We are bringing hackathons out of the IT realm and into policy-making as well as solutioning for public services. We will organise hackathons to bring together public officers to brainstorm ideas, co-create policies or prototype solutions. The first workshop themed “Friendly Faces, Lively Spaces” will be hosted by HDB. Some workshops will also be sponsored by inter-agency teams to look into issues that cut across several domains. I am looking forward to your active participation in these workshops.
22. The processes that we use in Project Tomorrow – its “Post n Poll” App and hackathons – are just as important as the solutions we seek to achieve. Such new ways of getting ideas must become more commonplace in the Public Service, and we must be prepared to adopt such new tools.
23. Being innovative and seeking continuous improvements will be very important as we seek to be “One Trusted Public Service with Citizens at the Centre”. Our transformation journey will have to take place in the midst of rapid change, hence we cannot continue to do things the same way as in the past.
24. Our ExCEL winners today lead the way in exemplifying this spirit of innovation and continuous change. The rest of us will have to follow their examples and learn to do things differently, and to do different things to transform the Public Service. And as every single one of us starts to make a difference in our own area of work, we will collectively bring about a better tomorrow for Singapore and Singaporeans.