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A system to help Govt spot trends in complaints, feedback

SINGAPORE — It has long been a common grouse how public feedback — be it a traffic complaint or report of nuisance pigeons — gets lost in a frustrating tangle of bureaucracy between government agencies.

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SINGAPORE — It has long been a common grouse how public feedback — be it a traffic complaint or report of nuisance pigeons — gets lost in a frustrating tangle of bureaucracy between government agencies.

Now, the Government is planning to put in place a system to better respond to the public, and help agencies spot trends from data collected.

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has called a tender for an “Integrated Case Management System”, with the aim of implementing “appropriate business rules for the automated routing of queries”, and providing a platform to resolve “complex issues” involving multiple agencies. The Government also wants to perform analysis on information collected to “better understand the current and emerging issues”.

Also specified in the tender was a mobile application, while text message alerts and a Web portal were listed as optional services.

The tender follows efforts in previous years to address the problem of complaints being bounced from one public agency to another — most memorably in 2008, when it took six hours for a businessman to find the right agency to deal with a pair of white-bellied sea eagles that had crash-landed on his balcony.

The “No Wrong Door” policy was introduced in 2004 to put the onus on the first agency that receives the feedback to diagnose the problem, and coordinate with other agencies for a response. It was followed by the First Responder Protocol piloted last year with the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) on animal-related issues.

Replying to queries from TODAY, the Public Service Division (PSD), which is awarding the tender, said one example of inter-agency cooperation was when the AVA, upon receiving pigeon-related complaints, worked with the National Environment Agency to conduct checks on cleanliness at food centres to address the issue.

“The Integrated Case Management System will ensure customer/citizen feedback is attended to quickly and more effectively by enhancing cross-agency coordination to resolve complex cases,” a PSD spokesman said. “The system will enable more effective analysis of data from different agencies to help improve the Government’s ground-sensing capabilities on current and emerging issues.”

Members of Parliament TODAY spoke to said the initiative has the potential to go beyond improving coordination to plug possible policy loopholes.

Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee on Communications and Information, said the data can be analysed, for instance, to see if there is an unusually high number of complaints on a specific issue. “For example, there could be a lot of singles appealing when a particular housing tweak is made. So we can identify the gaps and see what is the extent, based on the volume of complaints,” he said. “It can also be time-analysed to see if it relates to changes in the economic situation or policy changes.”

Marine Parade GRC MP Seah Kian Peng said the system could help identify which are isolated incidents and which are recurring problems, but added that it might be challenging to filter out the “noise” from real feedback.

Mr Zaqy added that civil service culture also needed to be changed from within. “Agencies need to be more collaborative. I think they can work together on forming policies, but it is also the ground issues they should learn to work together on,” he said.

The tender closes on Oct 14.

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