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How the government's multi-billion budgets end up benefiting "foreign talents" - ST (8 June 2007) - Race for a $1.5b IT deal enters home stretch

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  • Kaye Poh
    .. Up to 100 people have worked in our war rooms - Filipinos, Australians, Koreans, Europeans, Indonesians and New Zealanders. I ve never met so many
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 10, 2007
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      " ..'Up to 100 people have worked in our war rooms - Filipinos, Australians, Koreans, Europeans, Indonesians and New Zealanders. I've never met so many different nationalities for one project.' " - Straits Times, 8 June 2007, "Race for a $1.5b IT deal enters home stretch"
       
      THE public sector had outsourced $2.1 billion of non-strategic functions to the private sector
      - BT, 9 June 2007, "Govt outsources $2.1b of services"
       
      To: PM Lee Hsien Loong 
      cc: MM Lee Kuan Yew
      cc: Opposition MPs/NCMP/NMPs
      cc: Straits Times/Today/TNP
      cc: International news agencies
      cc: REACH
      cc: sg_review
      cc: JB Jeyaretnam
       
      11 June 2007
       
      From the 2 quoted articles attached below, a total of some $3.6 billion of citizens' money from the budget alloted to the government may end up benefiting foreigners?
       
      Correct me if I am wrong, but since the civil service (the various ministries or statutory boards like Mindef (part of the $2.1b outsourcing deal) or IDA (part of the $1.5b IT project) hires only Singapore citizens, these projects would have benefited citizens (for example, more of the unemployed citizens could have been hired) if they had been undertaken by these ministries and/or the statutory boards instead of outsourcing them to the private sector which ends up benefiting mostly foreigners.
       
      I cannot understand - with so many scholars in the government service, why are they not able to handle them?
       
      Take the case of the $1.5b IT proejct, beneficiaries may include "....Filipinos, Australians, Koreans, Europeans, Indonesians and New Zealanders".
       
      For the $2.1b outsourcing project, Mindef outsources to ST Electronics which is at liberty to hire foreigners and PRs since this ST subsidiary (and other GLCs like Temasek, its ultimate parent) always claim they operate like a "commercial" entity, not a "government" entity.
       
      (I note ST Electronics is in the thick of action for both these multi-billion projects, so may I ask how many foreigners and PRs are under their employment?)
       
      From the above examples, this effectively results in citizens' money funding the government budget leaking out to benefit foreigners rather than its own citizens!
       
      At the end of the day, citizens end up not only "left out of the value chain", but also not getting any value in terms of service (the recent Straits Times article on poor service standards from the government - ST, 10 June 2007, " 'No Wrong Door' policy? Dead end at some govt agencies").
       
      Rgds
      =====================================================
       
      Race for a $1.5b IT deal enters home stretch

      By Grace Chng, Deputy News Editor - June 8, 2007
      The Straits Times

      Digg!

      FOR the past month or so, ST Electronics' Joseph Tan has been heading home late every night for a quick shower and change of clothes before heading out again - back to work.
      His wife has stopped asking if he will be home for dinner, and family life has taken a back seat.
      The reason: ST Electronics has teamed up with Hewlett-Packard (HP) to form a consortium in a bid to snag an eight-year, $1.5 billion deal to supply the public sector with 60,000 personal computers - with software installed, networked, hooked up to the Internet and with helpdesk services thrown in.
      The HP-ST team is now working to come up with a competitively priced bid, and so are three other groups.
      This is the largest public sector outsourcing contract and an audacious one, because it allows a commercial company to run the computing system that will beat at the heart of government operations.
      These days, dinner for Mr Tan, 43, is ordered in from an online food delivery service and eaten at his desk at work in one of many 'war rooms' at HP's Alexandra Road office.
      Mr Tan, ST Electronics' vice- president for e-government and enterprise software, said even the team's weekly soccer games have been suspended.
      The Straits Times visited the HP-ST war room recently to see the makings of a bid for the project.
      There, sofas had been pushed aside to make way for tables. White boards with notes from brainstorming sessions stood to one side. Sheets of paper outlining strategies were taped to the walls. A refrigerator tucked in a corner was well- stocked with snacks and drinks.
      It was dinner time, and the 10 people in the room were taking a short break before pulling another all-nighter.
      Surveying the room, Mr Albert Koh, HP's director of business deve- lopment (commercial) and managed services for South-east Asia, remarked: 'Up to 100 people have worked in our war rooms - Filipinos, Australians, Koreans, Europeans, Indonesians and New Zealanders. I've never met so many different nationalities for one project.'
      Many of these foreigners had come to give their inputs on business strategies and technical solutions.
      The groups vying for the project were to have turned in their bids yesterday, though the tender submission deadline has been extended to June 21.
      But the pace of work among the four teams has not let up.
      The prize in this race is to be the winning bidder who will put in place the public sector's Standard Operating Environment (SOE), which covers nearly every ministry and government agency. The ones left out are the Ministry of Defence and Defence Science and Technology Agency, which have their own systems, as well as schools and other educational institutions, for which a separate tender will be called after October.
      Among other things, the SOE requires the winning proposal to shave 30 per cent off government spending on IT, and set up a system that is readily upgradable to keep up with advances in technology.
      Already, the diversity in government functions and operations makes the project complex.
      But the groups also have to grapple with uncertainties like the future price of electronic components and how technology will advance.
      Besides the HP-ST consortium called InSpire, the others in the running are NexGenea, led by NEC Solutions Asia-Pacific and CSC Computer Sciences (CSC); One Team, led by NCS and IBM; and One Meridian, led by EDS and Singapore Computer Systems (SCS).
      Each consortia has in turn roped in other partners, which include Cisco, Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent and hardware vendors like Lenovo, Dell and Acer.
      The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) announced the SOE in April 2005. Since then, the groups have been knocking their strategies into shape.
      Mr Derrick Lee, Alcatel-Lucent's vice-president of enterprise sales, recalled the apprehension of the early days because the project was treading new ground.
      Endless questions were posed: Which company was big enough to do this? What were the project's aims? How would something involving 60,000 public-sector workers be managed?
      The IDA met industry members several times to clarify the Government's requirements and seek feedback from the possible contenders.
      The eventual end-users of the SOE, officers in the public sector, were not forgotten. The IDA held forums for them and brought in representatives from big companies to share their experiences in cutting over to new systems similar to the SOE.
      Work pressure picked up for the four contending consortia after they cleared the pre-qualification exercise early last year. Dialogues with the IDA intensified.
      In NEC, the project group was divided into three teams - one working with partners, another to develop a financial model, and a third to work with the consultants.
      Over at SCS, teams were formed to look into, among other things, contractual, marketing, pricing and technical issues.
      The HP-ST team went through a dry run in putting a final tender document together, said Mr Koh.
      NCS' chief executive Chong Yoke Sin likened the SOE to a project management exercise, 'with milestones to meet to ensure that all the details will be brought together at the right time'.
      The teams' preparations included study missions overseas.
      For example, the EDS-SCS team spent three weeks in EDS' headquarters in Plano, Texas, where even a tornado did not disrupt their work.
      Said Mr David Ng of NEC Solutions' Asia-Pacific operations: 'We 'lived' with our 20 partners for the last 18 months. No matter how big or small their roles were, they all understood one thing - that whatever they proposed must offer the best value and price.'
      He said all it took was for one partner to quote a wrong price for the entire calculation to be wrecked and the bid made uncompetitive.
      Even the International Monetary Fund-World Bank meeting held here last year did not break the rhythm of the groups' preparations.
      Instead, they turned the mega event to a 'selling' effort which showcased their technological and implementation capabilities.
      Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent, for example, displayed their latest Internet Protocol (IP) telephony and digital communication services used by delegates.
      Other vendors have also been busy lately. In April, Alcatel-Lucent unveiled the IP Transformation Centre to showcase its state-of-the-art Internet technologies and technological leadership.
      With the submission deadline looming, work has picked up tempo. The chief executives of the foreign consortia have been coming here to lend weight to their teams' efforts.
      Last month, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano and Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer dropped by, as did NEC Corporation head Kaoru Yano.
      Despite the frantic pace of the last two years, life for the teams sometimes seems normal - or at least as normal as it can be under such circumstances.
      For example, Cisco account manager Caroline Foo, who worked with one consortium, got married last year.
      But her husband had to put up with others vying for her attention - business associates who called at midnight and sent e-mail messages to her Blackberry at odd hours.
      chngkeg@...

      High stakes
      The prize: An eight-year, $1.5 billion deal to supply the public sector with 60,000 personal computers, and put in place a Standard Operating Environment (SOE) that covers nearly every ministry and government agency.
      Among other things, the SOE requires the winning proposal to shave 30 per cent off government spending on IT, and set up a system that is readily upgradable.
      The contenders: Four consortia - a Hewlett-Packard-ST Electronics tie-up called InSpire; NexGenea, led by NEC Solutions Asia-Pacific and CSC Computer Sciences; One Team, led by NCS and IBM; and One Meridian, led by EDS and Singapore Computer Systems.
      =============================================
       
      Published June 9, 2007

      Govt outsources $2.1b of services
      Move ensures public sector remains focused on essential functions
      By VINCENT WEE
      THE public sector had outsourced $2.1 billion of non-strategic functions to the private sector as at end-March this year, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said yesterday.
      As part of the government's Best Sourcing initiative, about 23 per cent of these functions had been market-tested since 2004.
      Subsequently, 70 per cent of these were outsourced to the private sector. The rest are still performed by public officers. The initiative is aimed at ensuring the public sector focuses on essential functions and instilling fiscal discipline.
      'The public sector needs to continue to be a prudent steward of public money. Best Sourcing is a good way to achieve the most cost-effective acquisition of public services,' said MOF permanent secretary Teo Ming Kian.
      Non-strategic functions that have been market tested include cleaning services, facilities management, IT and other support or operational functions.
      For example, the Defence Ministry outsourced shared services to ST Electronics, which is expected to yield cost savings of 3-4 per cent over 10 years.
      Still, 30 per cent of non-strategic functions that were market-tested continue to be carried out by the public sector because this proved to be better value for money.
      For instance, the office operations services of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore were market-tested. Instead, it was found to be more efficient and cheaper to keep the services in-house.
       
       


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