25 August 2006 - Opening Address By Mr Peter Ho, Head of Civil Service At the Launch of GENIE Showcase, IDA Multi-Purpose Hall, Suntec City Tower Three.

Opening Address By Mr Peter Ho, Head of Civil Service At the Launch of GENIE Showcase on 25 August 2006, IDA Multi-Purpose Hall, Suntec City Tower Three.

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am pleased to join you today for the launch of the GENIE Showcase, a joint partnership among IDA, Intel, Microsoft and Fujitsu. This is the first public sector showcase in the world in which major multi-national corporations have come together to work with the Singapore Government to demonstrate the potential of info-communications technology. The showcase is a vision of how such technology could be exploited to transform the way public officers work in the next three to five years.

2. Singapore's infocomm journey began with the Civil Service Computerisation Programme in 1981. The aim then was to use technology to enable the government to serve citizens and businesses more efficiently and effectively. Indeed, infocomm technologies have played an important role that contributed tremendous improvement in productivity and efficiency for the public sector.

3. I remembered this story that was once shared with me. Back in the 60s, before computers were introduced to the Central Provident Fund Board, the board used a manual ledger accounting system on a battery of bookkeeping machines, to track and post its 1.6 million accounts belonging to employees in Singapore. It was a logistical nightmare that led to a mountain of backlogs and months of overtime for the staff whose work was not unlike that in a sweatshop. Then one day at a board meeting, a member who had read an article about computing, asked if that could help solve the problem. It started the wheels of change turning.

4. Having a computer then in those days for any public agency was a dream come true. For many years, the finance ministry had the only computer in the public sector. Other ministries were not allowed to buy their own machine because of the high expense. Instead, they had to send their data processing work to the finance ministry which acted like a service bureau. But today, we have computers at every public officer's desk.

5. Computerisation was a logical step for public agencies to improve efficiency and productivity. It was necessary for the public sector to move from labour-intensive to capital-intensive, mechanisation and automation. For the last 25 years, the public sector has creatively used infocomm technologies to transform the way we work to serve our citizens and businesses better and more efficiently. The government's strategic planning has established a strong foothold in the development of technological infrastructure. Today, Singapore is one of the world's leading countries that has successfully leveraged infocomm to gain a competitive edge over competitors in the globalise economy.

6. The public sector has achieved successes through the years, but we must not rest on our laurels. It is essential for the public sector to stay abreast of emerging technologies to find new ways to remain competitive and efficient, while facing challenges in this new information and knowledge era.

7. Today, public officers are inundated with large amounts of information and emails daily. There is therefore a need for an effective integrated application system to manage information flow. Advances in infocomm technologies also mean that public officers must be mobile contrary to the conventional desk bound office. They will need to communicate using various electronic devices such as mobile phones, PDAs and computers, across platforms and geographical locations. The government also recognises the challenge to keep pace with infocomm security through better management of infocomm systems.

8. Understanding and having adequate knowledge of technological developments is therefore vital to address these challenges. The creative usage of infocomm technologies in an innovative manner can help to develop a secure and collaborative platform for effective management and exchange of information within the civil service.

9. In line with iGov2010 masterplan, the showcase aims to demonstrate how our public officers can enjoy a seamless, exciting and technology-enabled work environment. The showcase will also provide valuable inputs to the formulation of the long-term strategy for the Singapore Government's infocomm roadmap for the public sector.

10. As part of the collaboration, IDA will work with Intel, Microsoft and Fujitsu to experiment and develop innovative solutions for the government workplace using current and emerging technologies and products. Many of these technologies are in the prototype stage and will only be commercially available in three to five years.

11. For a start, 16 technologies will be weaved into the showcase to demonstrate how seamless technological innovations and applications can support public officers in their work. In three years, IDA targets to have at least three technologies piloted at the public agencies and two technologies deployed service-wide. In total, the GENIE showcase aims to have 30 relevant technologies and products for the public sector being featured.

12. Such collaboration with multi-national corporations is a win-win partnership for all. The experience sharing in project implementation will enable both parties to gain effective technology knowledge transfer. I encourage all government agencies and IDA to leverage such valuable opportunity to work with and learn from our partners, including our local companies.

13. When the Singapore Government sets out 25 years ago to make technology an integral part of the way we live, work, learn and play, infocomm technology was in no way as prevalent as it is nowadays. Today, it is unthinkable to be without a computer, mobile phone, email account or Internet access.

14. As stated by our Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech, IT has opened up many opportunities for Singaporeans and our economy. We have come a long way exploiting IT and making it a pervasive part of our lives.

15. Infocomm will continue to be a key enabler for all sectors of the economy, including the public sector. The GENIE Showcase represents how infocomm can transform the way public officers work, and create solutions to enhance operational efficiency and productivity for the public sector. This further reaffirms Singapore's position as one of the leading e-Governments in the world and an early adopter of infocomm technologies.

16. Thank you.

Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023