Municipal Services Office to provide single point of contact for public

Monica Kotwani Channel NewsAsia 22 Sep 14;

SINGAPORE: The new Municipal Services Office's (MSO) immediate focus when it is set up next month is to have a single point of contact for the public to provide feedback and work out a standard method of processing the feedback, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu said on Monday (Sep 22).

Ms Fu also provided some details about the MSO, after visiting the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to get a better idea of its key municipal issues.

The eight agencies under the new MSO currently have different operating systems to collate and address feedback from the public.

Ms Fu, who is also Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, said the first order of business is to work out a standard protocol of processing all feedback.

"So even if you call a particular agency on a matter that is not relating to that agency, we will have an understanding amongst the public service officers on the way to capture the information, the feedback and the way to handle the feedback and to transfer it to another, the relevant agency and to also start tracking," she said.

Ms Fu said this is to operationalise the Government's 'no wrong-door' policy when it comes to providing feedback on municipal matters.

The MSO will put members of the public in contact with the relevant agency for their feedback or queries, instead of them being shuffled around to multiple agencies before they get the right one.

Ms Fu had previously said the various channels of the agencies will still be open for the majority of the straightforward feedback.

The MSO will also develop a smartphone application to address the public's need for a single point of contact, especially in situations where they do not know which agency to call.

"LTA, for example, says a large proportion of feedback from the public is to do with vehicle or policy-related issues, and that means it is clear-cut, and under the direct purview of the LTA. Only a small percentage is to do with municipal issues," Ms Fu said.

She added that when it comes to the maintenance of road infrastructure, there could be some cross-boundaries between the LTA, Housing Development Board (HDB) or town councils.

"This is one example where we could use technology like the app. If the public can tell us, take the picture, and really do not need to find out whether this is an LTA or HDB land, and we can then go on to solve the problem by the relevant agency," Ms Fu said.

Ms Fu intends to visit all eight agencies to get a better idea of the issues on the ground and where the MSO can make the most impact.

- CNA/dl

Municipal office to help guide response across govt agencies
Laura Elizabeth Philomin Today Online 23 Sep 14;

SINGAPORE — When a public service officer receives a complaint from a resident in future, the officer would be expected to know how the case should be handled — even if it falls outside his agency’s purview — and to follow up on the outcome, under a new standard protocol the Municipal Services Office (MSO) intends to develop.

The public will be able to submit feedback to the MSO through a new one-stop mobile application serving as a single point of contact to handle complex municipal issues that could involve multiple agencies. It would also allow users to send in pictures and tag their locations.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Grace Fu, who has been tasked to head the new MSO, shared these details during a visit to the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) office yesterday, one of a series of visits she is making to better understand the scope of work the MSO could cover.

Acknowledging that different government agencies have their own ways of addressing public feedback, Ms Fu said a standard protocol is meant to facilitate better coordination among the participating agencies despite having different systems.

“So even if you call a particular agency on a matter that’s not related to that agency, we will have an understanding amongst the public service officers on the way to capture the information and the way to handle the feedback, to transfer it to the relevant agency and also to start tracking,” she said.

The tracking mechanism that would be put in place, she said, should guarantee that the public receives an answer at a stipulated time, ensuring the effectiveness of the process and operationalising the “no wrong door” policy. No timeline was given as to when the standard protocol and the app would be rolled out.

The establishment of the MSO, which comes under the Ministry of National Development (MND), was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally in August, in response to laments among residents that complaints and feedback can end up bounced between agencies instead of being quickly resolved. The office is meant to be the place to turn to mainly for complex cases in which the public is unsure who to call.

Even before the MSO sets up its office on Oct 1, it has already received feedback and has begun processing them, said Ms Fu. More straightforward cases are being redirected to the relevant agencies, with the MSO taking charge in more complex cases.

Apart from the LTA, Ms Fu has also visited the Singapore Police Force and will make site visits to all the other agencies working with the MSO, such as the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and PUB.

The LTA said the bulk of feedback it receives is on vehicle-related issues such as the Certificate of Entitlement and only a small proportion deals with municipal issues relating to the upkeep of facilities. Ms Fu gave an example of maintenance of road infrastructure as a municipal issue the MSO could work on with the LTA, which could also involve town councils and the HDB.

Stressing the role of the MSO as a coordinator and arbitrator to solve bottlenecks and deadlocks, Ms Fu said: “It’s important for the MSO to identify the areas (that) impact the public most. What we want to do is, given the limited time and resources, apply our attention to those that would bring most benefit to the most people.”

Municipal services unit to launch app, establish protocol
Tham Yuen-c The Straits Times AsiaOne 25 Sep 14;

A new one-stop office, to handle municipal matters that involve multiple government agencies, will open its doors on Oct 1, with plans for two major initiatives.

One is the establishment of a standard procedure for public agencies to receive, handle and track feedback on such matters, to ensure complaints are handled within a stipulated time.

Second, it will introduce a smartphone app for people to report these problems.

Both moves by the soon-to- open Municipal Services Office (MSO) were announced yesterday by Ms Grace Fu, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, who will head it.

But their launch dates have not been finalised yet, she added.

The office, the setting up of which was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally last month, is to ensure that public agencies better coordinate to provide services that involve more than one of them.

It will come under the Ministry of National Development (MND).

Initially, the office will work with eight agencies: the Agri- Food and Veterinary Authority, national water agency PUB, National Parks Board, Housing Board, Land Transport Authority (LTA), Singapore Police Force, People's Association and National Environment Agency.

Yesterday, Ms Fu visited LTA's headquarters in Hampshire Road, off Kampong Java Road, to find out how the various agencies handle feedback on municipal issues.

She told reporters: "(We want to) identify the areas where we can make the most improvement within the shortest time... and bring the most benefit to the most people."

Previously, she had been to the police headquarters in New Phoenix Park in the Novena area, and in the pipeline are visits to the other public agencies the MSO will be working with.

Ms Fu said her topmost priority at the moment is to produce a "standard protocol" so that no matter which agency a person approaches, the feedback will be sent to the right party and tracked.

"Tracking is very important... (so that) the member of the public will have an answer by a stipulated time," she said.

The impending app will let people report municipal problems directly to the MSO, without having to deal with an extra layer of bureaucracy, said the MND in a statement yesterday.

To illustrate this, Ms Fu said a person who wants to report that some road infrastructure has not been maintained can simply take a picture and send it via the app to the MSO.

He would not have to worry about whether the road is under the LTA or HDB, she added.