Parliament: New rules to slash red tape, facilitate data sharing across government bodies

SINGAPORE - Even within the public service, government agencies sometimes run into excessive bureaucracy when working with one another.

But a new law introduced in Parliament on Monday (Nov 6) will help slash the red tape, and also allow agencies to share data with each other more easily, while spelling out rules on how this data can and cannot be used.

The Public Sector (Governance) Bill is part of the Government's push to better coordinate its own agencies, amid the Smart Nation drive to use technology to improve the lives of Singaporeans.

The Bill will officially bring all the public agencies and ministries together on the same page, as each statutory board is currently governed by its own law.

It gives the Minister in the charge of the civil service the legal power to give directions to all Singapore public sector agencies and require them to comply with a policy.

But these directions can only relate to certain areas such as employment, the handling of official documents, data sharing within the public service, and financial and resource management.

They can also be given only for specific purposes, including making policy-planning and service-delivery more efficient by analysing data.

Other goals include ensuring business continuity, and working in a whole-of-government manner.

The Bill also allows agencies to share data with each other when directed, "despite any obligation as to confidentiality under the common law".

This means that a public body cannot cite confidentiality as a reason not to share information it has with another public body.

To prevent the misuse of data, the Bill also sets out some safeguards.

It will be an offence to disclose or provide access to data without being directed to.

Also, anyone who re-identifies an information source that was made anonymous can be fined up to $5,000, jailed for up to two years, or both.

More details will be given when the Bill is debated early next year.