Singapore government agency launches automation platform for whole of government

By Ming En Liew

VITAL, a government agency in Singapore managing corporate shared services, is launching a new cloud-native automation platform which will help make robotic automation a norm for Singapore government agencies.

With robotics and automation, public officers will be freed up from tedious or repetitive tasks, and spend more time developing value-added services for citizens. Image: VITAL

The impact of front-facing government services is tangible and easily appreciated. Social grants uplift the vulnerable and the digitalisation and automation of critical services like transportation, taxation and construction make citizens’ lives better.

But behind the scenes, thousands of moving parts need to work in sync to keep these public services running like a well-oiled machine. This is where central agencies like VITAL come in – they sit at the centre of Singapore’s government, supporting more than 100 public agencies and over 100,000 public officers in the area of corporate shared services, including human resources, finance and procurement.

VITAL has taken their role to the next level with a plan to implement a new cloud-native automation platform. Based on software provider UiPath’s Automation Suite, this centralised platform will allow government agencies to easily access, collaborate and implement robotic process automation (RPA) solutions.

“With VITAL’s robotics and automation efforts, public agencies will be able to increase work efficiency and free up officers from otherwise tedious and repetitive work. This will also enable them to continue delivering quality services while developing other value-added services,” says Leong Siew Keong, Chief Information Officer of VITAL.

The platform is set to launch in the first quarter of 2023, with VITAL aiming to bring government agencies in Singapore on board the platform in the second quarter of 2023.

“With the new platform, corporate processes will become simpler through automation. Agencies will be able to access a suite of standardised bots and automation services for corporate service use cases, such as the creation of reports from extracted data, updating of records, the generation of notifications to recipients, and performing reconciliation or replication of information across datasets," Leong explains.

Those requiring a more customised approach will also have the option of working with VITAL to explore and create intelligent automation projects. In line with the adage of “build once, use many”, all new projects and bots can be uploaded and shared on the central platform for other government agencies to access. This reduces duplicative efforts and improves efficiency across the whole of government.

Beyond bots, government agencies can also enjoy a range of features including AI-related products like document analysis, process and task mining, as well as the generation of insights from unstructured information, processes and tasks.

Created by government, for government

As the Singapore government’s central agency for corporate shared services, VITAL is well-acquainted with the complexities of delivering technology for government. As such, the entire platform is secured as a private cloud. This ensures that agencies can easily access the platform without needing to worry about access and security compliance.

“Not all government agencies may be familiar with RPA. This central platform will lower the barriers to entry for robotics automation, allowing those who are new or unfamiliar to RPA to explore AI and automation solutions before understanding the intricacies of relevant technology and set-up, such as operating compute nodes and graphical processors for computer vision.

This would also lower the costs of automation, as government agencies would not need to set up their own RPA infrastructure for corporate services, of which some systems are classified”, Leong says.

Furthermore, the centralised platform ensures that the automation solutions developed would be interoperable across different government agencies. This means that VITAL can guide the deployment of automation solutions, mitigating the need for adjustments or customisations of bots and services for common use, unless necessary.

With a hand across all of Singapore’s government agencies, VITAL has always been an advocate for the integration of RPA in the public sector workforce. “We see technology as an enabler to augment our workforce,” Chief Executive of VITAL, Dennis Lui, had previously told GovInsider. This new platform is just another avenue through which VITAL is using technology to level up the corporate and administrative services for the Singapore Public Service.