Singapore has launched a new programme to attract data scientists, technologists and engineers to join government.

Smart Nation Fellows will get be appointed for three to six month stints in the Infocomm Development Authority’s Government Digital Services team. The team works with agencies across the government to test and develop new digital services.

The country is looking to attract more Singaporean engineers employed abroad to work on the Smart Nation programme, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said.

“It’s not just a matter of pay or having a job – they can find jobs. But to have the same challenge, same excitement, the same kind of technical demand on the person, which makes him feel he is stretching the envelope and doing something meaningful,” he said after a visit to Silicon Valley in February.

“To the credit of our education system, our best and brightest engineers find themselves in demand by leading technology companies all over the world,” said Jacqueline Poh, IDA’s Managing Director .

“The Government must continually engage with and learn from these technology experts globally to actively create technology applications that have the potential to change lives in Singapore.”

Fellows can pick from projects the the GDS team has already identified or propose new ideas. There will be two areas of focus – ‘Data’ and ‘Tech’. Data Fellows will help government analyse and visual data to make evidence-based decisions, while Tech Fellows will design, build and deploy digital services that help serve citizens.

The government will recruit the first batch with four to eight follows this year. IDA will also set up a network of alumni fellows who can continue working with the government on technology projects even after they have completed the programme.

The government has launched a new website with more details on the programme: fellowships.data.gov.sg

Also see: Interview with Head of Singapore’s Government Digital Services