New strategic policy unit to identify and meet national priorities: DPM Teo Chee Hean

With the better coordination at "the centre of government", these organisations can better develop policies and programmes which are in line with overall government objectives, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Wednesday when announcing the
With the better coordination at "the centre of government", these organisations can better develop policies and programmes which are in line with overall government objectives, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Wednesday when announcing the unit. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 

SINGAPORE - A new government unit will be set up to identify national priorities and come up with action plans that draw on resources across all its agencies.

Called the strategic policy unit, it is a major push in the government's ongoing effort to improve coordination among ministries and agencies.

With the better coordination at "the centre of government", these organisations can better develop policies and programmes which are in line with overall government objectives, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Wednesday when announcing the unit.

It will be formed in July, come under the Prime Minister's Office and be led by the head of the civil service, Mr Peter Ong.

The unit, to be kept "small and nimble", will focus only on the most critical issues, said Mr Teo at the annual Administrative Service Dinner and Promotion Ceremony on Wednesday to an audience of elite public servants.

In particular, it will look at how a certain policy has knock-on effects, trade-offs or synergistic possibilities with other government programmes or services.

It will also be responsible for strategically allocating resources in terms of budget, manpower, and even land or carbon to meet said priorities.

While ministries will remain responsible for policies in their own areas, the new unit will "join the dots" across initiatives, added Mr Teo.

In his speech at the dinner, Head of Civil Service Peter Ong said the the issues facing civil servants "are becoming more complex, more conflated and conjoined."

"New divides like class, values and political leanings may reduce our policy manoeuvring space," he said.

Public servants must build up a wider range of skills and nurture their "ground feel" and empathy to meet the challenge, he said, urging administrative officers to also "be anchored on values" of integrity, service and excellence.