National database that will speed up aid delivery to needy to be ready next year

SINGAPORE - Needy people who require help will get it more speedily when social service agencies start sharing a national database of information on aid recipients from the third quarter of next year.

The tender to develop the system, called Social Service Net, was awarded to consultancy firm Accenture for $26.5 million, announced the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) on Friday.

Having a national case management system for the social service sector will make it easier for the needy to get help because they will be spared having to provide detailed information, such as the problems they face and what kind of help they previously received, each time they go to a different agency.

Those who need help often have multiple needs, such as financial assistance, counselling, housing or employment issues, which require them to approach many agencies.

This system is akin to the existing national health record system which allows doctors from various hospitals and polyclinics to call up a patient's records regardless of where the patient is treated. Even if the needy were to move from one part of the city to another, their case histories could still be accessed readily.

For social workers, the system will reduce their administrative workload because they can, with a few keystrokes, pull up the records to find out the kind of assistance that has already been given to their client and focus on what further help is needed.

The system is a joint effort by MSF and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore. Safeguards will be put in place to protect clients' confidentiality and privacy.

For a start, Family Service Centres and Social Service Offices - often the first stops for residents seeking help - will be able to access the database next year.

Other agencies, such as voluntary welfare organisations, will be brought into the system progressively.

MSF Minister Chan Chun Sing said it will take some time for all agencies to transit to the new system even after it is developed.

"Our aim is to better serve those in need. We will provide the necessary support, and work closely with all partners to ensure a smooth transition," he said.