Excelling for the Future
06 Jul 2022

We hit the lucky seven with seven awards at the recent Public Sector Transformation (PST) Awards!

At the ceremony held on 6 July 2022, our teams were recognised in the COVID-related efforts category for their efforts in helping citizens and businesses ride out the pandemic with agility, service excellence and innovation.

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Our winners with DSTA Chief Executive Mervyn Tan (fourth from left).

Displaying teamwork

Of our winners, two teams clinched the One Public Service Award for their exemplary inter-agency initiatives that reflected a sustained and institutionalised approach to collaboration.

When COVID-19 first hit our shores, there was an urgent need to increase Singapore’s swabbing and testing capacities. To help meet this requirement, our team collaborated with the Ministry of Health, the Health Promotion Board, MINDEF, and various other agencies in a public-private partnership effort. Through the partnership, the Building Capacity and Capability team was able to ramp up overall swab volumes by deploying swab teams and setting up swab centres across Singapore.

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The Building Capacity and Capability team received the award from Guest of Honour and Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Wong (seventh from left).

At the same time, Singapore was faced with an urgent need to manage food supply uncertainties caused by global supply chain disruptions. Another team consisting of members from DSTA, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore Food Agency, Enterprise Singapore and Jurong Town Corporation stepped in. They worked together to develop a food supply risk management dashboard that provided a better situational awareness of our nation’s food supply and demand, and used risk assessment models to maintain the resiliency of Singapore’s food supply chains.

“We felt a strong sense of urgency and a calling to step up and support our nation during the crisis. I’m proud that our team rose up to the occasion and went the extra mile to do our part for Singapore,” said Head Capability Development (Systems Resiliency) Cheng Siew Yen, who was the team’s lead analyst.

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The Securing Essential Supplies team with DPM Wong (sixth from left).

Designing innovative systems

Two other DSTA teams clinched the Agility Award for developing initiatives in a timely manner to respond to challenges in a fast-changing operating landscape. They were behind the Testing Operations Centre (TOC) Command Control (C2) system and the COVID-19 C2 system.

When COVID-19 started to spread across Singapore, testing had to be scaled up urgently. Pulling together their multidisciplinary expertise, our team wasted no time in developing a TOC C2 system that merged the nation’s COVID-19 testing needs and its supply allocation into one central system. This helped to ease testing operations and ensured that the nation’s supply was not overwhelmed.

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The DSTA TOC C2 team at work.

On the other hand, the COVID-19 C2 system team developed a system that provided effective situational awareness of the migrant workers’ movements within designated care facilities and dormitories. This facilitated contact tracing, a process which identifies close contacts of those infected. By presenting all the key information in one central system, the team enabled a more effective and coordinated cross-agency response to the situation, which helped limit the spread of COVID-19 within the community and in the migrant workers dormitories.

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Development of the DSTA COVID-19 C2 system carried on even through the circuit breaker.

Daring to make change

Two DSTA teams received the Dare to Do Award for their work in the MINDEF Forward Deployment Laboratories (FDL) and the Accelerated Contact Tracing initiative. Through their work, the teams showed courage to take risks, overcome failure and persevere to try continually and learn iteratively.

Consisting of members from DSTA, DSO National Laboratories and MINDEF, the FDL team developed a containerised laboratory solution that offered flexibility to scale COVID-19 testing capacity as needed.

“Our team was motivated and driven because we knew the importance and significance of setting up the FDL. It is immensely satisfying to know that the FDL achieved its objectives and has supported both MINDEF and the Whole-of-Government well,” said team member and Senior Programme Manager (Building and Infrastructure) Erwin Chee.

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The DSTA team inside the FDL.

To help curb the spread of COVID-19, contact tracing became increasingly important. The team behind the Accelerated Contact Tracing initiative, which included members from DSTA and the SAF, saw the opportunity to create a tool to streamline this process. This allowed accurate data to be shared across multiple government agencies and reduced the time required for contact tracing substantially.

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The Accelerated Contact Tracing team receiving the award from DPM Wong.

Exemplary Leadership

Last but not least, Senior Programme Manager PO (C3 Development) Sharon Ang, who led the COVID-19 C2 system team, clinched the Exemplary Leader Award for leading and growing her team, as well as driving excellent service, innovation and change.

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Sharon (left) receiving the Exemplary Leader Award from Head of Civil Service Leo Yip.

To Sharon, being a leader was about prioritising her team members’ welfare and morale by always being there for them, and working with them on the system’s development and testing throughout the process. She also took the effort to learn how every software feature worked so she could continue to lead discussions and perform system demonstrations to the stakeholders while her team focused on the ongoing development.

On her leadership style, Sharon said: “A leader’s role is to build the team, set the course for the goal, and ensure that the team get there together. I like to tap every individual’s strength, and see myself as someone who can help to remove roadblocks to success.”

She added: “To my teammates, I’m sure that we have all gained something out of the experience, be it learning a new skill, forging new friendships, or discovering something new about one another. These will form the foundation on which greater things will be built on in the future.”

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