Parliament: Government to automate IT processes to reduce errors caused by manual inputs

In July, the Auditor-General's Office highlighted three key lapses by several government ministries and agencies: weaknesses in IT controls, as well as irregularities in procurement and management of contracts.
In July, the Auditor-General's Office highlighted three key lapses by several government ministries and agencies: weaknesses in IT controls, as well as irregularities in procurement and management of contracts.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Several government IT processes will be automated to relieve public officers from having to manually update data and, in turn, cut down on errors.

The change was disclosed by Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary in Parliament on Tuesday (Aug 6), in a reply to Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) on behalf of the Prime Minister.

Mr Singh, the Workers' Party chief, had asked why the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) had once again flagged IT lapses in its latest annual report, released last month.

Dr Janil noted that one specific type of IT lapse that came up in both the most recent audit and previous years' is where agencies' processes depend on individuals to manually update and monitor areas such as access and log management.

"Such manual processes can result in delays and errors," he said.

"To address this decisively, the Government will introduce systems to relieve our officers from carrying out these processes manually and reduce the likelihood of such lapses."

He added that it will systematically automate IT processes across the public sector to manage user access rights, review privileged users' activities and review system locks.

"The use of automated solutions will facilitate compliance but will still require supervision and oversight by our officers," he said.

 
 
 

In July, the AGO highlighted three key lapses by several government ministries and agencies: weaknesses in IT controls, as well as irregularities in procurement and management of contracts.

The weak IT controls include inadequate monitoring and review of the users of IT systems, especially external vendors with access to sensitive or personal information. The ministries included Defence and Manpower.

On Tuesday, Dr Janil said the Government would continue to raise IT security awareness and capabilities among its officers. He added that the Public Sector Data Security Review Committee would make its final recommendations in November.

"We'll look into not just the technical measures... but also process and people measures to raise data security across the public sector."

Mr Singh also asked about the findings of a major audit on public sector IT systems carried out from 2009 to 2011, and how they differed from the Auditor-General's annual reports.

Dr Janil said the annual audits look at a government body's ability to comply with onerous and complex policies, while the special audit looked at whether agencies even had protocols in place.