The Government of Singapore (GOS) not only plays an important and active role in promoting the adoption of ICT in the country, it is a major buyer of ICT products and services. With healthy reserves, the GOS continues to aggressively implement its ICT projects despite the worldwide economic downturn. In FY 2009 (April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010), the GOS will issue 392 ICT tenders worth US$1.2 billion. It is expected to call three major tenders including the Standard Infocomm Technology (ICT) Operating Environment for Schools, IT Application Development and Maintenance Bulk Tender and the Server and SAN Bulk Tender. The GOS is an early adopter of technologies in the region and there are excellent opportunities for U.S. companies to sell applications and solutions to Singapore and through Singapore to governments in neighboring countries. Singapore is a signatory to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. The U.S.-Singapore FTA provides increased access for U.S. firms to Singapore’s central government procurement. U.S. firms generally find Singapore to be a receptive, open and lucrative market. The Singaporean government procurement system is considered by many American firms to be fair and transparent.
The GOS is a major buyer of ICT products and services and there are excellent opportunities for U.S. vendors and service providers to sell to the government here. The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) functions as its Chief Information Officer and is responsible not just for master-planning, but also for project-managing and implementing various infocomm systems and capabilities for the government. It oversees IT standards, policies, guidelines and procedures for the Government, and manages the infocomm security of critical infocomm infrastructure. This key role involves conceptualizing, developing, implementing and managing Government-wide IT infrastructure and application systems.
In May 2009, the IDA announced that the government will award S$1.73 billion (US$1.23 billion) worth of ICT tenders for the fiscal year starting April 1, 2009 – March 2010. This was S$130 million (US$93 million) increase over the tenders awarded in FY2008. The government will issue more than 392 tenders and based on track record, we expect the GOS to spend more than estimated in FY 2009. The GOS believes there is a need to enhance the delivery of public services through infocomm technology to bring about greater efficiency and responsiveness. To that end, the Singapore government has invested significantly in ICT projects and the results are reflected in several global survey rankings. The GOS was ranked first in the 2009 Waseda University International e-Government Rankings and tops Accenture’s 2007 Study on Leadership in Customer Service.
Singapore has a 10 year ICT masterplan called iN2015 . The most significant project is the Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure that includes an ultra high speed fiber optic broadband network called Next Generation National Broadband Network (NGNBN). The tender for the Network Operator was awarded to OpenNet in June 2008 and the successful consortium is responsible for designing, building and operating the passive infrastructure. The tender for the Operating Company that will provide wholesale network services over active infrastructure for the network was awarded to Nucleus Connect in May 2009. The IDA is currently seeking content and applications and retail service providers to participate in the rollout of the broadband network that has started and will be completed in 2012.
iGov2010 is part of iN2015 and its vision is to be an Integrated Government (iGov) that delights customers and connects citizens through Infocomm. To achieve an iGov, the IDA is reworking backend processes that cut across all government agencies to strengthen customer-centricity in service delivery and it is refocusing from integrating services to integrating Government. A major project of iGov2010 is the Standard ICT Operating Environment (SOE). In February 2008, the IDA awarded the oneMeridian consortium, a US$922 million(S$1.3 billion) project to transform the government’s IT infrastructure. The government-wide SOE comprises a standard desktop operating environment, a standard messaging and collaboration environment, and a standard network environment. EDS leads the consortium with partners such as Singapore Computer Systems (SCS), Frontline Technologies Corporation Ltd, Fuji Xerox, Avanade, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Microsoft, and SingTel. OneMeridian is currently implementing the SOE in phases for a total of 74 government agencies that excludes the Ministry of Defense which has developed their own system, and the Ministry of Education (Schools) which will build a separate system.
The Ministry of Education (MOE)’s major project in FY2009 is the SOE for Schools. "There is still scope to further standardize to achieve greater economies of scale and operational efficiencies," said Mr. Sivakumaran Sathappan, Senior Technical Services Manager, Information Technology Branch, Ministry of Education during the May 2009 briefing. Other projects from MOE include enhancements to edumall2.0, the Internet-based platform for hosting teaching and learning resources and serving as the gateway to externally hosted resources; the creation of iSHARE Zonal Portals, a repository for teacher-related materials; a Digital Language Lab to enhance teaching of English language in schools; the upgrade to the Wide Area Network (WAN) infrastructure facilitating the delivery of these applications; and enhancements to key administrative applications to cater to evolving business requirements.
The FutureSchools@Singapore program of the Ministry of Education seeks to develop up to 15 schools which will serve as pathfinders for the wider Education and Learning community in Singapore by 2015. Students will rely on their tablet PCs which will be connected to a wireless network and books will not be required. Over S$80 million (US$57 million) will be spent over the next three years to build immersive learning environments for students at Singapore's pioneer batch of "FutureSchools". In 2008, four consortia headed by Civica, Hewlett Packard, Singapore Telecommunications and ST Electronics (Training and Simulation Systems) were chosen to develop and deploy innovative infocomm-enabled learning applications for five schools in Singapore.
The GOS is also looking to develop a nation-wide National Electronic Health Record system where all information will be integrated from hospitals, clinics and non-profit organizations. The two major public healthcare groups will account for a large share of IT investments in the healthcare sector as they are expected to invest aggressively in IT infrastructure and applications.
By Chia Swee Hoon