Municipal Services Office to partner more town councils

Municipal Services Office to partner more town councils
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu, who heads the Municipal Services Office.
PHOTO: Lianhe Zaobao

The agency set up to coordinate government responses to municipal problems is expanding to partner six more town councils.

This comes after a successful four-month pilot with two town councils that saw issues, such as high-rise littering, resolved more quickly and effectively.

The Municipal Services Office (MSO) will now open the pilot to the remaining 14 town councils, including the Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), said its head, Ms Grace Fu, yesterday.

Six town councils will then be selected in the next two months for the MSO's second pilot phase.

Ms Fu, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, told reporters that the MSO's objective is to have all the town councils on board within the next 12 months.

Since its pilot began in March with Jurong and Holland-Bukit Panjang town councils, the MSO has established protocols to make sure that cases do not get lost as they are passed from one of the eleven government agencies it oversees to a town council, and vice versa.

It has also created a manual to clarify the responsibilities of each agency and town council.

Ms Fu said there are no fixed criteria on how the next six town councils will be chosen but they will be primarily "assessed for readiness", which includes whether they are "prepared to invest in the human resources needed to run things smoothly at the back end".

Ms Fu said that the MSO has effected change on the ground since it started last October. The resolution time for referral cases involving multiple agencies has fallen from eight to 6.5 working days, a drop of 20 per cent. Municipal infrastructure is also built faster under MSO coordination.

For example, the HDB and Land Transport Authority each received requests this year for a footpath to connect the Buangkok LRT station to nearby schools and residences. The MSO stepped in and is working with four agencies to build a path by next year. "The MSO looks at how resources are optimised, so we don't have redundant facilities as a result of two or three agencies handling similar requests," she said.

Ms Fu said that the MSO and its partner agencies now receive about 9 per cent of its 53,000 monthly cases on digital platforms, such as its mobile app OneService.

The MSO wants to see this proportion grow, as digital reports ease coordination. "The information is more complete, and allows us to make use of our back-end system to forward the case to the relevant agency directly, without the need for human intervention," she said.

This article was first published on July 7, 2015.
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