New auditor-general to take charge from February

Ms Goh Soon Poh (above), who is deputy secretary in the Prime Minister's Office and Home Affairs Ministry, will take over from Mr Willie Tan Yoke Meng.
Ms Goh Soon Poh (above), who is deputy secretary in the Prime Minister's Office and Home Affairs Ministry, will take over from Mr Willie Tan Yoke Meng.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

SINGAPORE - From Feb 8 (2019), Singapore will have a new auditor-general, Ms Goh Soon Poh.

The 56-year-old, who is deputy secretary in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and Home Affairs Ministry, will take over from Mr Willie Tan Yoke Meng, 63.

A PMO statement on Monday (Jan 7) said Ms Goh will relinquish her current appointments when she takes up her new post.

The auditor-general leads the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) in checking the financial accounts and records of government ministries and departments, organs of state and statutory boards. Its findings are published in an annual report, which is publicly available and often draws wide interest.

Ms Goh joined the civil service in 1984, after obtaining an economics degree from Cambridge University on an Overseas Merit Scholarship. She was deputy secretary in various ministries, including Education and Finance, as well as the Public Service Division.

Since 2009, she has been in the Home Affairs Ministry, and oversees finance, procurement and internal audit matters as deputy secretary (corporate).

In 2016, she was concurrently appointed deputy secretary (security coordination) at the PMO, where she helps the permanent secretary to oversee the work of the National Security Coordination Secretariat and the Elections Department.

She was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 2000 and the Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 2015.

Mr Tan has been the auditor-general for the last six years and in his term, he led the AGO to reshape and sharpen its audit strategy as well as enhance public accountability and strengthen financial governance.

He also introduced the Auditing Service scholarship in 2014 and supported the launch of the PSC Scholarship (Public Finance) last year.

The PMO statement noted that he sharpened the AGO's focus on the quality of audit and clarity in communicating its findings.

"Mr Tan introduced a new approach of thematic audits, enabling AGO to carry out more in-depth audits of selected areas and to highlight both lapses and positive learning points," it said.

It added: "He set the tone for AGO to be a more professional and progressive national audit institution, emphasising continuous professional development and high auditing standards.

"He also introduced initiatives to prepare the organisation for the future, including harnessing technology and data analytics."

Mr Tan joined the public service about 45 years ago.

He joined the Singapore Armed Forces in 1974, after getting an engineering degree on an SAF Overseas Scholarship.

He served until 1989.

Subsequently, he held various appointments in the public service, including at the Ministry of National Development and Public Service Division.

In 1997, he was appointed the Health Ministry's deputy secretary and two years later was concurrently named chief executive of the Health Corporation of Singapore, which later became MOH Holdings, the Government's holding company for public healthcare assets.

In 2002, Mr Tan became CEO of the Central Provident Fund Board and deputy secretary (administration) of the Defence Ministry in 2005.

Mr Tan was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 1994 and the Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 2010.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong thanked Mr Tan for his service in a Facebook post this evening (Jan 7), where he also stressed the two important functions of the auditor-general.

One, he or she reports to the President and Parliament on the proper management and use of public funds and two, he or she carries out independent audits on public sector agencies, as well as other audits as provided for under the law or directives.

“The Auditor-General is independent in deciding the audit work plan, and what and how the audit findings are reported,” PM Lee said.

“The public must be assured that public sector agencies are subject to independent audits that are rigorous and impartial, and that public moneys are properly spent and accounted for.’’