Civil Service head Peter Ong says policy makers must be close to the ground

Mr Peter Ong, Head of the Civil Service. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Mr Peter Ong, Head of the Civil Service. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

THE Head of the Civil Service wants elite members of the service to be close to the ground so they will not only craft but also execute policies well.

Mr Peter Ong used the occasion of this year's Administrative Service dinner to highlight the importance of policy implementation, even as the Government prepares to roll out new policies in the second half of its five-year term.

He said good implementation is needed especially as the environment is changing rapidly in Singapore, with more diverse needs and many different voices.

Policies have also become more complex, with a "constant surge" in transactions and feedback volumes. The time to roll them out has also shortened.

"To overcome these challenges, we must devote more attention, time and resources to ensure that our carefully crafted policies will deliver the intended outcomes for our citizens when implemented," he said.

Mr Ong said to execute policy well, three things are needed.

The first is to pay attention to the details by being close to the ground.

The second is to work with non-government partners such as voluntary welfare organisations and companies.

The third is to tap the wisdom of specialists with deep knowledge in the public sector.

Mr Ong also highlighted the importance of exposing Administrative Service Officers or AOs to operational jobs, such as putting more buses on the road.

There are now 27 AOs working in such jobs, and the aim is to have all AOs have at least one such posting in their careers.

Another way to get officers closer to the ground is through the six month Community Attachment Programme. Its participants quadrupled from 10 in the 1980s to 40 this year, he said.

By year end, 70 per cent of AOs are expected to go through the programme in their first 15 years.

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