Singapore’s new tech agency will be “agile, bold and collaborative” in its work to embrace technology disruption, said Jacqueline Poh, CEO-Designate, in her keynote speech at Innovation Labs World.

“We think that it is the job of governments to be agile”, Poh said. This means “being prepared to disrupt ourselves, being prepared to think twice, think in a different way, and really make those changes on time.”

Second, GovTech must also be bold in adoptive new solutions. “Especially where technology is involved, which is possibly ahead of the curve, [or even] possibly ahead of the private sector,” she added.

“If the solution is something that is worth exploring – even on a small scale – we should try them”, through proof-of-concepts or pilots, she added.

Third, GovTech must collaborate with other agencies, private vendors, startups and the wider tech community in Singapore. “What we want to do in GovTech is to leverage on the resources that are already available,” she said. “We want to leverage on all of that to be able to reap the most value for taxpayers.”

Poh cites the agency’s work with the Singapore Land Authority on paperless property title deeds as an example of “agile and bold”.

Earlier, “the process of replacing a lost title deed was about two months,” she said. Even if citizens wanted to view information on their own property or its title information, they would have to purchase it for a fee.

Title deeds have now gone paperless, and all of this is now available free of charge online on SLA’s new MyProperty service. This was “really to make our property transactions completely digitised”, Poh said.

Another important area of collaboration for the government has been to partner with startups and smaller companies. “For many years it was said that the government would never buy from a small company,” she said. “We wanted to debunk that with a number of initiatives for co-creation, especially with small companies.”

The current Infocomm Development Authority is running a programme to accredit startups and small companies as credible sellers of tech to government agencies. The challenge was that “if you are a small company, you would never have the track record to be able to sell to government, which happens to be one of the biggest buyers of tech”, Poh said. The Accreditation programme gives such companies the ability to now win government contracts.

More broadly, the government as a whole has has changed ICT procurement so that smaller companies are not at a disadvantage. “We wanted to enable greater agility in our ICT procurement processes using a public sector ICT supplier panel,” she said. It is also “introducing the concept of outcome-based procurement.”

Image by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore