Government to spend 30% more on information and communications technology

SINGAPORE – There will be a major boost in government spending on information and communications technology (ICT) in this financial year as technology becomes increasingly important in people’s lives amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a media statement on Monday (June 8), Government Technology Agency (GovTech) said that an estimated $3.5 billion will be spent in 2020, up from $2.7 billion for the last financial year.

Some of the projected spending for this year include ICT projects brought forward because of the pandemic, such as the development of tech solutions to respond to Covid-19.

Investment in digitalisation has been instrumental in the Government’s technological response to the coronavirus which causes the disease, said the release. For example, GovTech engineers managed to put together the TraceTogether app and the national digital check-in system SafeEntry to aid contact tracing, as well as launch the MaskGoWhere and SupportGoWhere websites to guide citizens on where to collect their free masks and how to get funds or other benefits.

The Government will also continue to invest in technology to accelerate Singapore’s digitalisation push on a whole-of-nation level, said the statement. This includes the development of digital services for citizens and businesses, the continual migration of eligible ICT systems onto commercial cloud, and developing more applications within government and across the industry for sensors and artificial intelligence (AI). More details about these projects are expected to be released soon.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be eligible to participate in 80 per cent of the potential ICT procurement opportunities. In the last financial year, nearly 70 per cent of the total ICT contracts were awarded to SMEs.

To improve SMEs’ access to these opportunities, GovTech has worked with the Ministry of Finance to streamline and introduce new procurement methods, said the release. These include incorporating more bulk tenders and dynamic contracting to shorten the procurement process.

Usually, the Government’s ICT and digitalisation roadmap is announced at the annual Smart Nation and Digital Government industry briefing. In the light of restrictions due to Covid-19, GovTech will be rolling out the information online, which will include more details of the focus of the Government’s digitalisation programme and areas of projected spending. This will begin on Wednesday .

To help with the overall digital push, GovTech is also actively recruiting fresh graduates as well as experienced tech professionals. There are more than 400 vacancies for, among others, software engineers, digital business analysts, cyber security specialists, data scientists, AI engineers and infrastructure specialists.

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Mr Kok Ping Soon, GovTech’s chief executive, said: “As we take on the new normal of Covid-19, we are re-engineering our back-end digital infrastructure which underpins the delivery of front-end government digital services to citizens, businesses and public officers.”

Noting that Covid-19 has illustrated the importance of digitalisation, he added: “We hope that businesses, especially the SMEs, will benefit from the larger pool and higher value of ICT procurement opportunities, work with us to build a smart nation and digital government, and emerge stronger from this crisis together.”