Sunday, 25 Oct 2020

Public service to revamp how officers are assessed

SINGAPORE – Industry disruptions and the Covid-19 pandemic have created new challenges that organisations and individuals must respond to, and the public service is no exception, said Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing on Friday (Oct 16).

Public servants will need to be flexible and gain exposure to diverse experiences, even beyond the public sector, to respond to uncertainties and outliers.

The public service will also need to adapt its systems for assessing public officers to meet the challenges, Mr Chan said during the One Public Service Observance Ceremony held virtually for the first time.

“It is not sufficient for good officers to be posted to different Ministries or agencies but doing the same roles,” he said.

“It is even more important for them to be posted to different roles.”

The event is part of the annual Public Service Week which has been held since 2008 to celebrate and recognise the work done by government officers.

Noting the need to update the Currently Estimated Potential (CEP) system, Mr Chan said: “It cannot be, as some of you jokingly call it, the ‘Career Ending Point’ system, as if your fate is predetermined and unchanging. Instead, we must have a system of continuous meritocracy.”

He told over 9,200 public servants who attended the ceremony that the career roadmap for public servants should be for the next three to five years, not the next 30 years.

“We will also update how we assess high potential. To show leadership potential, we must not only be able to make sound policies, we must be able to implement well, innovate, work in teams, communicate effectively, and mobilise relevant stakeholders for collective action,” said the minister.

“It is not easy or realistic to find and develop all these attributes in one single individual. This is also why we will be paying greater attention to the formation of leadership teams in ministries and agencies.

“Ultimately, it is the team that must do well for Singapore and our organisation, beyond the individual doing well.

“We will progressively augment the CEP system with this new approach from 2021.”

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Mr Chan said senior public service officers should gain exposure to policy, operations and communications or mobilisation work, and they should also have stints outside the public service in the people and private sectors or overseas.

Said Mr Chan: “The world is becoming more complex. We cannot expect to know everything if we do not venture out.

“We cannot preach agility when we do not practice it.

“We cannot develop policies and rules for tomorrow when we do not know how society and the world operate beyond the public service. We must walk the ground, know our people, our stakeholders and our businesses even better.”

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During the ceremony, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addressed public servants in a video message and thanked them for their work during the pandemic.

The Government’s Covid-19 response was not perfect, and there were many things it could have done better in retrospect, he said.

“Where we have fallen short, we will learn from the experience and do better. But overall, the public service more than rose to the occasion,” he noted.

“We fought off the virus, kept our people safe and took care of workers and families. Public officers have put in your heart and soul, and given everything you have. Without high quality, dedicated public officials, we wouldn’t have stood a chance.

“This Public Service Week, I salute all our public officers for your dedication and efforts. Thank you for what you have done, and continue to do.

“The fight is not over. Our battle continues, but together we will overcome.”

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