Public Service Must Adapt to Meet Changing Needs

Public servants must walk in the shoes of ordinary citizens and develop capabilities to serve citizens better, said Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the Public Service Leadership Programme (PSLP) dinner last night (27 Oct). 

Speaking to about 600 public service officers, DPM Tharman added that “We must be close to the ground, listening to feedback, sensing the deeper concerns that often underlie the feedback and spotting the gaps in policy delivery that should not be there.” Some examples cited were how the Housing and Development Board (HDB) walked alongside with residents in Tanglin Halt who were affected by the Selective Enbloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) throughout their journey and how the Health Promotion Board (HPB) and Alexandra Health System (AHS) worked together on a pilot programme to help taxi drivers stay healthy. 

Mr Tharman also identified other ways the public service must evolve to meet the increasingly complex needs of citizens. Co-ordination among the different government organisations “must be second nature to public servants” because most issues faced by citizens do not fall under the purview of a single agency. 

The public service should also discuss and debate the nation’s future with different stakeholders, including the private sector, civil society and individual citizens. 

“It is when people get involved…and put in the effort to make things happen, that we build broad ownership over Singapore’s future.”

Source: “See issues through eyes of ordinary citizens,” (The Straits Times, 28 October 2015).

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