The Singapore government has made a series of organisational restructuring in order to unify and speed up the roll-out of its Smart Nation initiatives.

On 1 May 2017, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) will be formed under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) — an executive agency that oversees various ministries and government agencies, and supports the Prime Minister in corporate and administrative matters.

There are two parts to this new organisation structure:

First, staff from the Digital Government Directorate of the Ministry of Finance (MOF); Government Technology Policy department in the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI); and the Smart Nation Programme Office (SNPO) in the PMO, will, collectively, form the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO).

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Next, the Government Technology Agency (GovTech), a statutory board under MCI, will be placed under the PMO as the implementing agency of SNDGO.

Launched last year in October, Govtech aims to work with public agencies to develop and roll out various digital platforms. These include a service to make paying tuition easier, a trade information and management system and Capability Centres to improve engineering talent.

Together, SNDGO and GovTech will form the SNDGG.

Image Credit: Prime Minister’s Office

SNDGG’s key objectives

The SNDGG will “apply digital and smart technologies to improve citizens’ lives in key domains, in partnership with other government agencies, industry, and the public,” stated an official press release.

One key area would be urban mobility. Using data analytics, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has been able to better manage bus fleets, reduce crowdedness and improve timeliness.

Going forward, the SNDGG will work with LTA to integrate existing and emerging technologies to improve the public transport system and improve the commuter experience.

SNDGG will also develop digital enablers and platforms for Smart Nation. It will build upon GovTech’s existing projects to enhance data sharing through data.gov.sg, and partner the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to promote e-payments.

Additionally, the SNDGG will drive the development of a national digital identity framework to facilitate digital transactions, and a national sensor communication platform to support IoT applications.

Finally, SNDGG will ramp up digital capabilities within the Government, including in areas such as data science and IoT, to improve delivery of public services.

SNDGG will be overseen by a Ministerial Committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Teo Chee Hean. Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information will be Deputy Chairman and Minister-in-charge of Cybersecurity and the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA).

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Dr Vivan Balakrishnan will be the Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative; Minister Ong Ye Kung will be in charge of Public Service Innovation; and Minister of State Dr Janil Puthucheary will be the Minister-in-charge of GovTech.

“The establishment of the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group will strengthen our organisational ability to plan ahead, focus resources, orchestrate inter-agency efforts, and maintain a tight linkage between planning and implementation,” said Teo, in an official press statement.

“This change is necessary to drive the Smart Nation initiative more effectively and to exploit the increasing opportunities offered by the accelerating pace of change in digital technology, and the increasing breadth and complexity of IT and smart systems,” he added.