Friday, August 31, 2012

Did S'pore government bodies make dodgy tech procurements?

26 Brompton folding bicycles were at the heart of a controversial procurement process by Singapore's Nparks.

Following the public outcry over what appears to be a series of shocking graft discoveries in Singapore's squeaky clean civil service and the National Parks Board's (Nparks) controversial procurement of bicycles which resulted in the suspension of the officer involved, this geek read with interest the recently released report of the Auditor-General to see how much technology have been procured in an inappropriate manner.

I pored through the report to see how many tablets, smartphones and PCs were involved in the lapses. Alas, the report did not state such juicy details. While it listed irregularities in procurement for government bodies such as the Ministry of Defense, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, Police, Prisons, Singapore Sports Council, Ministry of Education, Singapore Science Centre, Public Utilities Board, Nparks and even Sentosa, most of these did not give enough details to determine how many of these were technology-related contracts.

It was interesting to read how the Ministry of Finance made a duplicate payment of S$18 million which was eventually recovered, and how our tax department's access rights to the Stamp Duty System were not reviewed and five officers were granted rights to create and edit stamp duty calculation rules, including the exemption of stamp duty payment and modification of GIRO records.

Technology-related incidences include the discovery of unauthorized network access (the horror!), again from the Ministry of Finance, but they were found to be from internal test systems. Although Sentosa used a "fully integrated computerized ticketing system", 66 voided tickets were somehow used and accepted by the system because they were not invalidated.
The report (PDF link) runs into many pages and while it's not exactly material you enjoy with popcorn, some of the details do provide intriguing insights into the operations of our civil service. The silver lining here is that these lapses were not only discovered, they were publicly announced. That's a thumbs-up for transparency.
Nicknamed 'Gadget Boy' by friends at age 18 perhaps due to how fast he could scribble Grafitti on his Palm Pilot, Nicholas Aaron Khoo is a digital nomad who has a penchant for wearing different hats. He is a ISO27001:2005 consultant and is also the President of Singapore Computer Society's Interactive Digital Media Chapter. See his industry affiliations on He is a member of CNET Asia's regional blogger network and is not an employee of CNET Asia.

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