Exclusive: Singapore reveals changes in tech procurement

GovTech CEO highlights innovative methods like spiral contracting to be used by government.

Local startups accredited by the government are getting a “green lane” to sell to government, the CEO of the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) of Singapore has revealed. Last week, the government announced $2.4 billion of spending on ICT in the next year. Local companies will get a preference on some of these deals if they are part of an accreditation scheme, it was revealed. “Government agencies, if they are looking for solutions that these companies can provide, must procure from these 17 companies first,” Jacqueline Poh, Chief Executive of GovTech, told GovInsider. “This is a green lane for projects below a certain value and is congruent with FTA [Free Trade Agreement] regulations,” she continued. Cloud policy clarified The Singapore Government also clarified that it will support the public cloud for hosting data and websites. Agencies were previously wary of using public cloud services, as government policies did not explicitly state that unclassified data—that is, data can be found and read publicly online—can hosted on a commercial cloud system. GovTech’s cyber security group has now issued a clarification to agencies that unclassified data can indeed be hosted on the commercial cloud, and the government will be looking to host more public sector websites there. Spiral contracting As part of the revamped procurement process, GovTech announced that it will be using “spiral contracting”. This method of procurement allows projects to proceed in bite sizes. Contracts will be written with multiple stages, with the project progressing to subsequent phases of prototyping, piloting and deployment only if the first phase is successful. This process allows agencies to test their proposed solutions within a single tender process. “We’re using more innovative ways of procuring, such as spiral contracting, for example, to get us to a point where companies don't feel that the time between when they propose their ideas, to the point they can a contract, is too long,” said Poh. The GovTech Chief Executive said that government will engage more actively with technology companies, and asked for industry to propose more innovative solutions. “For cutting edge developments that we want to engage industry on, we need to make them aware that the government is looking into these areas and partner with them,” she said. “If you see the things that we are going to build, they are quite new. They are not things that the industry will have readymade solutions for,” she added. Image by GovTech