New auditor-general to take over next month as incumbent retires

Ms Goh Soon Poh will take over on Feb 8 from Mr Willie Tan Yoke Meng, who is retiring as auditor-general.
Ms Goh Soon Poh (above) will take over on Feb 8 from Mr Willie Tan Yoke Meng, who is retiring as auditor-general.
Ms Goh Soon Poh will take over on Feb 8 from Mr Willie Tan Yoke Meng, who is retiring as auditor-general.
Ms Goh Soon Poh will take over on Feb 8 from Mr Willie Tan Yoke Meng (above), who is retiring as auditor-general.

On Feb 8, 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, who is retiring from the post.

A PMO statement yesterday said that Ms Goh will relinquish her appointments when she steps into her new position.

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 getting an economics degree from Cambridge University in England 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 deputy secretary in the Home Affairs Ministry, and oversees finance, procurement and internal audit matters.

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 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.

The PMO statement noted 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.

"He set the tone for AGO to be a more professional and progressive national audit institution, emphasising continuous professional development and high auditing standards," it added. "He also introduced initiatives to prepare the organisation for the future, including harnessing technology and data analytics."

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

Mr Tan, who received an engineering degree on a Singapore Armed Forces Overseas Scholarship, was with the military from 1974 until 1989. Subsequently, he held various appointments in the public service, and in 2002, became chief executive of the Central Provident Fund Board. In 2005, he was appointed the Defence Ministry's deputy secretary (administration).

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 yesterday, where he also stressed the important functions of the auditor-general.

The person reports to the President and Parliament on the proper management and use of public funds, and carries out independent audits on public sector agencies.

"The auditor-general is independent in deciding the audit work plan, and what and how the audit findings are reported," PM Lee said.

He also said people must be assured the agencies receive independent audits that are rigorous and impartial, and public moneys are properly spent and accounted for.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2019, with the headline 'New auditor-general to take over next month as incumbent retires'. Print Edition | Subscribe