MDA losing it’s focus?

While I would be kinder to the MDA, I think this article is quite telling. The two agencies (EDB and the MDA), have in their ranks people who are smart, but not street smart. It is a pity. There are good things these two agencies can do (and have done) but as the organizations mature, there is a significant amount of complacency that creeps in. #fb


  1. pattern detection
    “wrong kind of attention” indeed! is this inapt presentation a symptom of a wider problem with .gov deciders being out of touch with what is happening in the world beyond those superscalar titanium rice bowls?

    • Re: pattern detection
      I think the problem is multifacted. Take for example, the way in which Singapore progressed in it’s national effort to computerize the civil service to gain efficiencies etc. The effort was spearheaded by the former National Computer Board which did a tremendous amount of work – a lot of it good work. And today we have a fairly advanced civil service who uses technology for a wide range of problem solving.
      But, the types of people who made this happen are no longer around – they all left with the merger of the NCB with the TAS to make the IDA. I recall an exchange of emails with the former CEO of NCB, Steven Yeo, about how NCB can help introduce open source into government. He was keen, but other events – the “convergence” game – took precedence which his successor, Michael Yap had to face with the ultimate merger of NCB with TAS. The merger has set back the IT thought leadership in Singapore back many, many years. I would say that it is stangnant today. The in2015 vision, while interesting, still lacks the magic the previous IT2000 masterplan had.
      I have to say that there are well meaning chaps running the IDA, but I would question long held beliefs with their corporate DNA because of the loss of risk-takers and forward thinkers. The SOE project is running amok with potential cost overruns. There are costs in the SOE project that was never factored in that now will come to bite the tax payer.
      The winner in this ordeal is Microsoft. They seem to have a magical hold on the IDA which the IDA cannot seem to break out of.
      Could the MDA also have lost it’s way? I hope not. In many way, the MDA of today is a NCB 2.0. A few of the technocrats of the NCB are there but I think the risk taking and innovation that NCB took is probably not going to be there anymore. The new people recruited into these agencies do not have the same types of challenges the NCB faced in the 80s and 90s. The challenges they face are of a matured environment and the jostling of ideas somehow does not seem to inspire them to be bold.
      I am told that the whole wireless@sg project was initiated because some visitor to Singapore met with the old man and complained about the lack of wifi access. The old man had to ask why and that put into motion the whole wireless@sg roll out. But I digress.

      • Re: pattern detection
        Harish: Having been in NCB of yore and more outside, they have always paid lip service to Open source but never funded any serious initiative. While you are pointing out to the manifestations of the problem, I would reckon the problems are deep. Organizations routinely go astray; it is for the leadership to bring a new focus and sense of urgency. Sadly the iDA leadership has been found wanting.
        I have questioned the rationale of the SOE project publicly as I was an industry analyst and had access to benchmark data. It was completely ignored and iDA refused to share the assumption and working model. Even at that time, I had hinted that they are conveniently ignoring several elements which could become critical factors.
        Well, I wrote about what iDA needs to do here at:
        There are several related posts.
        My sincere belief is that there needs to be an overhaul; not just in terms of personalities but in terms of thinking. The earlier, the better.

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