Cheaper, faster, better: Four takeaways from GovTech Singapore’s rebranded 2024 Industry Engagement event

By Yogesh Hirdaramani

GovTech Singapore’s Chief Executive, Goh Wei Boon, shared the steps the government is taking to simplify industry partnerships to co-develop projects.

This year's GovTech industry engagement session saw more closed-door discussions with tech partners. Image: GovTech Singapore

Speaking at GovTech Singapore’s 2024 Industry Engagement event, GovTech Chief Executive, Goh Wei Boon, said the organisation’s achievements would not have been possible without collaboration with industry players.


“Together we can collaborate better to achieve even better outcomes... We have deliberately rebranded this event from industry briefing to industry engagement, to reflect a two-way conversation,” Goh said.


His words set the tone for this year’s industry briefing session, which GovTech uses to connect with industry players and provide key updates. Over the years, these sessions have provided key insights into the government’s evolving approach towards partnering with tech players.


Talking at a media doorstop, Goh told GovInsider that GovTech will be maintaining its budget for co-developed projects.


“We believe that more can be done by being more efficient and streamlining the requirements so that even with the same amount of budget, we will be able to meet the requirements and still be able to solve the problems that we want to solve,” he said.


This year’s event marks another milestone in the government’s increasing openness to collaborate with the industry. Goh opened the day’s events by highlighting recent partnerships with companies, including Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft, as well as Ufinity, Cognizant, and Palo IT, and called on industry players to deepen their engagements with the government.


In line with the rebranding, this year’s event went light on plenary presentations. After Goh’s opening remarks, attendees were instead invited to attend smaller presentations by GovTech employees, and five closed-door discussions were organised to seek feedback on topics such as upcoming compliance and procurement regulatory changes. 


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1. More money to improve digital infrastructure, minimise disruptions 


The government has set aside over 60 per cent of its 2024 ICT (Infocomm Technology) procurement budget to strengthen its digital infrastructure and minimise disruptions. This means an increase in spending from SGD 1.3 billion to SGD 2.1 billion from 2023 to 2024 (USD 960 million to USD 1.55 billion).  

GovTech Singapore is allocating more funding towards strengthening digital infrastructure this year. Image: GovTech Singapore

The budget will go to re-engineering existing infrastructure to reduce the complexity of tech systems, modernise legacy systems, and improve cybersecurity. This will support GovTech in keeping costs sustainable by reducing duplicated efforts and keeping systems reliable, resilient, and secure.


The government will be looking at comprehensive monitoring of services to maintain system resilience and ensure they can recover quickly if disruptions occur.


GovTech is monitoring threats such as DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks, ransomware, and AI-enabled cyber threats. The government is also moving towards a zero-trust approach to cybersecurity in the second half of 2024.


As of December 2023, 79 per cent of eligible systems have been migrated to the Government on Commercial Cloud 2.0, he said. This means that GovTech has exceeded its 2020 goal of migrating 70 per cent of government systems to the commercial cloud by 2023.


The government will continue to modernise legacy systems and ensure they remain flexible. GovTech will encourage agencies to break down large systems into smaller modules to keep them simple, adopt incremental changes, and replatform and redevelop systems to run best on the cloud, said Goh. 

2. Cheaper, better, and faster products through common tools


Another SGD 1.2 billion (USD 890 million) will go to creating and enhancing user-centric public services, shared Goh.


“We need to continue building impactful government digital products. Our products must be cheaper, faster to build, and better in terms of user experience,” said Goh. These three qualities will ensure that new products can satisfy high demand, meet requirements, and solve problems, he explained.

Goh Wei Boon, Chief Executive of GovTech Singapore, shared updates on the Singapore Government's ICT budget for the year. Image: GovTech Singapore

The government will continue to encourage agencies to adopt reusable and standardised development tools, via commercial Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products and the Singapore Government Tech Stack (SGTS), he said.


GovTech aims to increase whole-of-government adoption of the stack to 54 per cent by 2024. 


The stack offers services such as digital identity and data analyics modules as well as monitoring tools that ensure code is secure-by-design and compliant to security. Around 32 per cent of new apps in 2023 were built using the SGTS, up from 19 per cent in fiscal 2022.


In a session on the tech stack, GovTech representatives spoke about recent improvements to better support developer productivity and projects co-developed with vendors. In another session, GovTech representatives highlighted that agencies should conduct user journeys and develop prototypes to build excellent government products. 

3. Government to simplify ICT procurement  


The government is simplifying collaborations with industry players through various reforms targeting compliance and procurement frameworks. These reforms aim to make it easier for industry players to co-develop projects with the government.


First, the government has introduced perpetual and dynamic contracting for selected bulk tenders in 2024. These contracts will have no end dates, so vendors with bulk tenders will not need to reapply if they comply with government terms and conditions.


New vendors can also be flexibly added to the contract to ensure it remains competitive. In the past, vendors could only be added when a new tender was raised, so new vendors would have to wait for existing contracts to run out.


The government will also experiment with a new “Tender Lite” category for ICT contracts. The category has fewer contract clauses than regular tenders and has been rolled out for general goods and services contracts that are between SGD 90 000 and SGD 1 million (USD 66 496 to USD 740 000).


Today, more than 80 per cent of GovTech systems are developed by or with industry. 

4. Government to simplify security requirements for co-developed ICT projects 


GovTech is reviewing the security requirements of low-risk government systems to help vendors work more easily with the government.


According to Goh’s presentation, this review will reduce controls by 60 per cent – and the audit compliance requirements for over 1000 systems. Once the review is completed for low-risk systems, GovTech intends to review the security requirements for medium and high-risk systems too.


This review will mark a shift from a compliance-focused approach for development to a risk-based approach, shared GovTech representatives in a session on the policy reform.


GovTech was projected to spend 45 per cent of its FY2023 budget on projects co-developed with industry, up from 27 per cent the previous year, reported GovInsider previously