Public Service Division



The Public Service Division (PSD) was established under the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on 3 January 1983 to serve as the central body dealing with matters relating to personnel management and career development in the civil service. These matters had previously been handled separately by several government bodies.1 PSD was transferred to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in 1994.2 The division now manages the human resource and development policies of public service officers as well as provides support for the “Public Service for the 21st Century” (PS21) movement aimed at building a first-class public service for Singapore.3

Background
Prior to the establishment of PSD, responsibility for the personnel and career development matters of civil service staff was divided among three government agencies: the Personnel Administration Branch of MOF’s Budget Division classified civil service jobs as well as administered the employment terms and conditions of civil servants; the Establishment Unit of the PMO oversaw the training and career development of senior civil servants; and the Public Service Commission (PSC) managed, among other things, the recruitment, promotion, transfer and discipline of officers in the civil service.4

From 1978 to 1981, there was a sharp increase in the number of resignations from the civil service, including high-level administrative officers, doctors, lawyers and engineers. During this period, the elite administrative service alone lost 15 senior officers and 118 junior officers. The government was concerned over this brain drain from the civil service, which was generally attributed to the more attractive salaries and faster career advancements available in the private sector.5 The pay disparity between the public and private sectors was in fact confirmed by a 1981 survey conducted by the Research and Statistics Unit of the Inland Revenue Department on graduate employment and earnings. The survey found that graduates in the private sector earned on average 41.7 percent more than their counterparts in the public sector.6


On 3 March 1982, the government announced that public sector wages would be revised to bring them more in line with those of the private sector.7 The objective was to ensure that the civil service would continue to maintain its vibrancy and effectiveness by attracting and retaining bright graduates.8 The government also decided to adopt an employee-centred approach towards managing civil servants which would place more emphasis on long-term career development rather than the short-term needs of a job.9

On 19 April 1982, the government announced the appointment of a high-powered 12-men steering committee headed by then PSC chairman Tan Teck Chwee to study how this new approach could be adopted.10 On 31 December 1982, the committee announced that a single agency would be formed and given authority to review, revise and implement civil service personnel policies and practices, with a view to making long-term improvements to the civil service.11

Establishment
On 3 January 1983, PSD was established under the purview of MOF. It was organised into five branches that handled the respective portfolios: scholarships, discipline and appointments; personnel development; salary schemes and service conditions; research and placement services; and finance and administration of the division.12

PSD took over all the functions of the Personnel Administration Branch under the MOF’s Budget Division. It also took over from the PSC functions like the career development of graduate officers, job-matching for professionals, administration of scholarships and supervision of the Civil Service Institute. PSC continued to be responsible for the recruitment, promotion, transfer, discipline, dismissal and placement of civil servants on pension schemes. Head of civil service Sim Kee Boon was appointed the first permanent secretary of PSD, reporting directly to the minister for finance. His deputy was then Secretary of PSC Er Kwong Wah.13

Later developments
1980s
In July 1983, PSD introduced a comprehensive annual staff review in which permanent secretaries and heads of department wrote appraisal reports assessing staff work performances. PSD also introduced staff ranking exercises, which were adapted from the system already in use at the petroleum company Shell, to determine the potential of civil service officers for advancement.14


In 1984, the Social Development Unit (SDU) was formed within PSD to help single public service graduates find suitable marriage partners by organising matchmaking activities such as overseas tours and personal development courses.15 In 1998, SDU was transferred to the then Ministry of Community Development.16

On 5 September 1984, following Sim’s retirement, Permanent Secretary (Special Duties) at PMO Andrew Chew took over as permanent secretary of PSD as well as head of civil service.17

In 1989, the Social Integration Management Service (SIMS) Unit was set up under PSD to facilitate the integration and assimilation of new immigrants to Singapore by providing assistance in areas such as housing, education, employment, immigration matters and social services.18

1990s
On 1 June 1994, PSD was transferred to PMO, which saw the merger of the PSC secretariat and PSD. In October that same year, Lim Siong Guan took over as head of PSD in his capacity as permanent secretary of PMO following Chew’s retirement.19 Under Lim’s tenure, PSD formulated guidelines that devolved personnel management to ministries. This gave the personnel boards within the ministries greater control over the appointment, promotion, transfer, confirmation and placement of civil servants, thus making these processes faster and more efficient. Lim also introduced the concept of scenario planning into the public service.20 As a result, the Scenario Planning Office was established within PSD in 1995 with assistance from the Ministry of Defence.21


In 1995, SIMS was merged with the Professionals Information Programmes Management Services Unit (PIPS) to form the Foreign Talent Unit within PSD.22 The new unit had two functions: first, to attract foreigners to Singapore and help them settle down; second, to keep in touch with Singaporeans who were overseas so that they would want to return to Singapore eventually.23 On 1 May 1998, the unit was transferred to the Ministry of Manpower’s International Talent Division, which also served similar functions through its “Contact Singapore” programme.24

The PS21 Office was also established within PSD in 1995 to support the PS21 movement.25 Officially launched in May that year, the movement aimed to change the organisational culture of the civil service to one that encouraged civil servants to be “service-conscious, forward-looking and innovative”.26

In 1996, the Personnel Guidance Unit was set up within PSD to help improve the selection, placement and development of public service officers.27

In 1997, PSD organised the first public service exhibition at the Suntec City Convention Centre. Titled “Serving Singaporeans – Today, Tomorrow”, the exhibition showcased the range of public services available to Singaporeans and also provided visitors with glimpses of future plans to improve such services.28

2000s to present
In 2001, the Civil Service College (CSC) became a statutory board under the purview of PSD.29 The college was established in April 1996 to serve as the centralised training institute for public officers of all grades.30

In 2002, the Organisational Development Unit was established to help develop organisational excellence within PSD.31

In 2003, the Scenario Planning Office was renamed the Strategic Policy Office and expanded to include the Strategic Issues Group, which was formed to study long-term strategic issues across government agencies.32

In 2005, the permanent secretary of PSD was appointed to oversee the work of both PSD and CSC. That same year, the Corporate Services Department and the Communications and International Relations Department were also set up within PSD.33

In 2006, the Leadership Development Department was established within PSD to handle matters pertaining to personnel development, compensation and the administrative service.34

In 2007, PSD set up the External Projects Office to help export Singapore’s public sector capabilities.35

In 2008, PSD celebrated its 25thanniversary. In May that year, PSD launched the first Public Service Week, which was to become an annual event for public officers to celebrate the achievements of the public service. The event also saw the introduction of the Public Service Pledge, which is recited by public officers at observance ceremonies held locally and abroad.36

On 21 May 2011, PSD came under the purview of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean following his appointment as the minister in charge of the civil service.37



References
1. Central body to manage civil servants. (1983, January 1). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Public Service Division. (2014, March 20). Achievements and milestones. Retrieved from Public Service Division website: http://www.psd.gov.sg/content/psd/en/aboutpsd/achievements_milestones.html
3. Prime Minister’s Office. (2013, August 16). About Prime Minister’s Office. Retrieved from Prime Minister’s Office website: http://www.pmo.gov.sg/content/pmosite/aboutpmo.html#.VAV_lfmSy3I
4. Chua, M. H. (2010). Pioneers once more: The Singapore Public Service, 1959–2009Singapore: Straits Times Press and Public Service Division, p. 131. (Call no.: RSING 351.5957CHU)
5. Fong, L. (1982, February 28). Govt concerned over brain drainThe Straits Times, p. 1; Admin service losing the people it needs. (1982, February 28). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Fong, L. (1982, February 21). Pay rise likely for admin gradsThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Fong, L. (1982, March 4). Pay rises for govt ‘brains’The Straits Times, p. 1; Chew, L. (1982, September 5). Civil service agrees on NWCThe Straits Times, p. 1; Pay rise for men at the top in govt. (1982, November 2). The Straits Times, p. 36. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Govt move to keep pace. (1984, March 4). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Chua, M. H. (2010). Pioneers once more: The Singapore Public Service, 1959–2009Singapore: Straits Times Press and Public Service Division, p. 130. (Call no.: RSING 351.5957 CHU); Fong, L., & Lee, K. C. (1982, April 19). Civil service with human faceThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Fong, L., & Lee, K. C. (1982, April 19). Civil service with human faceThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Central body to manage civil servants. (1983, January 1). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Central body to manage civil servants. (1983, January 1). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Central body to manage civil servants. (1983, January 1). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
14. Fong, L. (1983, July 6). Now civil service takes two steps forwardThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Ortega, B. (1985, March 6). Soon: Matchmaking service for us allSingapore Monitor, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Public Service Division. (2008). National goals, global perspectives.Singapore: Public Service Division, p. 37. Retrieved from PSD website: http://app.psd.gov.sg/data/Corporatebook/PSD%20Book.pdf
17. Kee Boon retires from civil service. (1984, September 5). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Unit set up to help immigrants. (1989, August 23). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Public Service Division. (2008). National goals, global perspectives.Singapore: Public Service Division, p. 36. Retrieved from PSD website: http://app.psd.gov.sg/data/Corporatebook/PSD%20Book.pdf
19. Andrew Chew to retire as head of civil service. (1994, April 23). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Public Service Division. (2014, March 20). Achievements and milestones. Retrieved from PSDivision website: http://www.psd.gov.sg/content/psd/en/aboutpsd/achievements_milestones.html
20. Chua, M. H. (2010). Pioneers once more: The Singapore Public Service, 1959–2009Singapore: Straits Times Press and Public Service Division, p. 187. (Call no.: RSING 351.5957 CHU); Grappling with the future in advance. (1996, April 28). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Public Service Division. (2014, March 20). Achievements and milestones. Retrieved from PSDivision website: http://www.psd.gov.sg/content/psd/en/aboutpsd/achievements_milestones.html; Neo, B. S., & Chen, G. (2007). Dynamic governance: Embedding culture, capabilities and change in Singapore. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, p. 389. (Call no.: RSING 351.5957 NEO)
22. Public Service Division. (2014, March 20). Achievements and milestones. Retrieved from PSD website: http://www.psd.gov.sg/content/psd/en/aboutpsd/achievements_milestones.html
23. Gupta, S. (Interviewer). (2006, February 21). Oral history interview with David Ma Kwok Leung [Transcript of cassette recording no. 003020/03/02, p. 48]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
24. Ministry of Information and the Arts. (1999). Singapore: Facts and Pictures, 1999. Singapore: Ministry of Information and the Arts, p. 102. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SMCFFS-[HIS])
25. Gupta, S. (Interviewer). (2006, February 21). Oral history interview with David Ma Kwok Leung [Transcript of cassette recording no. 003020/03/02, p. 48]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
26. New code to boost the ‘service’ in Civil Service. (1995, May 6). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Public Service Division. (2008). National goals, global perspectives. Singapore: Public Service Division, p. 36. Retrieved from PSD website: http://app.psd.gov.sg/data/Corporatebook/PSD%20Book.pdf
28. Public Service Division. (2008). National goals, global perspectives. Singapore: Public Service Division, p. 36. Retrieved from PSD website: http://app.psd.gov.sg/data/Corporatebook/PSD%20Book.pdf; Chen, J. (1997, May 28). Singapore's survival: give your ideasThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved form NewspaperSG.
29. Civil Service College now a stat board. (2001, October 10). The Straits Times, p. H10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Public Service Division. (2014, March 20). Achievements and milestones. Retrieved from PSD website: http://www.psd.gov.sg/content/psd/en/aboutpsd/achievements_milestones.html
30. Civil Service College. (2013, May 28). History of CSC. Retrieved from Civil Service College website: https://www.cscollege.gov.sg/About%20Us/Pages/Our-History.aspx; Chua, M. H. (1996, February 28). Civil service to get one central training collegeThe Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Public Service Division. (2008). National goals, global perspectives. Singapore: Public Service Division, p. 37. Retrieved from PSD website: http://app.psd.gov.sg/data/Corporatebook/PSD%20Book.pdf
32. Public Service Division. (2014, March 20). Achievements and milestones. Retrieved from PSD website: http://www.psd.gov.sg/content/psd/en/aboutpsd/achievements_milestones.html; Neo, B. S., & Chen, G. (2007). Dynamic governance: Embedding culture, capabilities and change in Singapore. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, pp. 209–210. (Call no.: RSING 351.5957 NEO)
33. Public Service Division. (2008). National goals, global perspectives. Singapore: Public Service Division, p. 37. Retrieved from PSD website: http://app.psd.gov.sg/data/Corporatebook/PSD%20Book.pdf
34. Public Service Division. (2008). National goals, global perspectives. Singapore: Public Service Division, p. 37. Retrieved from PSD website: http://app.psd.gov.sg/data/Corporatebook/PSD%20Book.pdf
35. Public Service Division. (2008). National goals, global perspectives. Singapore: Public Service Division, p. 37. Retrieved from PSD website: http://app.psd.gov.sg/data/Corporatebook/PSD%20Book.pdf
36. Public Service Division. (2008). National goals, global perspectives. Singapore: Public Service Division, p. 37. Retrieved from PSD website: http://app.psd.gov.sg/data/Corporatebook/PSD%20Book.pdf; Public Service Division. (2008, March 31). First Public Service Week in May. Retrieved from PSD website: http://app.psd.gov.sg/data/Press%20release%20on%20PSWeek_final.pdf
37. Public Service Division. (2014, April 28). Organisation chart. Retrieved from PSD website: https://www.psd.gov.sg/content/psd/en/aboutpsd/organisation_chart.html; Government of Singapore. (2011, September 21). Cabinet appointments: Mr Teo Chee Hean. Retrieved from The Cabinet website: http://www.cabinet.gov.sg/content/cabinet/appointments/mr_teo_chee_hean.html



The information in this article is valid as at 12 September 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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