PS21: Building a Future-Ready Public Service

PS21 is the change movement of the Singapore Public Service, a movement that seeks to build a Public Service that is ready for change and ready to change to ensure the present and continued success of Singapore and Singaporeans. 

The Heart of PS21

At the heart of the PS21 movement lies the ambition to improve organisations, and public officers’ capacity to deliver citizen-centric policies and services. The Public Service best serves Singapore through its abilities to be ready for the future, and through working with the people and upholding trust. 

To realise the vision of becoming "One Trusted Public Service with Citizens at the Centre", PS21 has sparked future-oriented, efficiency-led, and service-driven reform initiatives. These run in tandem with efforts to enhance staff well-being, organisational effectiveness, and cultivate a climate conducive for innovation.

What is PS21?

The PS21 mass movement seeks to promote the spirit of innovation and change-readiness in the public sector. It emphasises the importance of transforming mind-sets and creating a different organisational culture and norms. 

The focus is on empowering public officers so they feel confident to make decisions in a state of continuous change, and are motivated to do their jobs more efficiently, effectively and innovatively. This is fundamental to good governance.

"What exactly is the spirit behind PS21? To me, it is about empowering our public officers, regardless of rank, designation or job scope. It is about giving everyone a voice, letting their ideas be heard and in so doing, enabling all to create more value for the public and for Singapore."

- Mr Peter Ong, Head of Civil Service at the PS21 ExCEL Convention forum and award ceremony on November 15, 2012. 


Under PS21, the Public Service has implemented a range of government programmes focusing on recognising public service innovation, improving policy and service delivery, and encouraging cross-agency collaboration. 

One such example is how all public officers are encouraged and equipped to make suggestions to improve the Public Service’s work. Officers brainstorm and prototype solutions for Public Service issues through innovation workshops, and agencies can use Post ‘n’ Poll, a mobile app, to crowdsource for ideas from public officers. This is in line with our belief that every officer can be an agent of change and come up with ideas that make a difference to Singapore and Singaporeans. 

The Design Thinking Unit, under the PS21 Office has emphasised a human-centred approach that builds trust and puts the needs of citizens at the centre. From 2012 to 2013, in an effort to address municipal issues like high-rise littering and dog litter in common spaces, the unit engaged groups of residents in Punggol to understand their pain points, establish deeper relationships, and strengthen mutual trust between the Public Service and residents. This effort led to the redesign of public services and cultivated an ideal living experience that the residents took pride, and were personally invested in. 

Another initiative from PS21 that seeks to systematically enhance areas with scope for improvement is the ministry-level Work Improvement Teams (WITS) projects – where teams of public officers collaborate on innovation projects. One success story is when a team from the Environment Health Institute developed a saliva-based anti-dengue detection technique which is easier and cheaper to administer. 

As a means of dealing with misdirected feedback or cross-agency issues from the public effectively and nimbly, the “No Wrong Door” policy was introduced to improve response times. The First Responder Protocol was also introduced, and when more than one agency is implicated, the agency that receives the feedback will coordinate the public response. 

The above are some examples of innovations that serve to improve how we serve our people. 

Each year, to recognise our officers’ and agencies’ spirit of innovation and excellence, about a hundred awards are given out at the annual PS21 ExCEL (Excellence through Continuous Enterprise and Learning) Awards and Convention for deserving programmes and policies.

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