Outcome-Based Contracting Conference – Remarks by Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment

Published: 26 November 2021

Mr Edward Liu
Managing Director, Conference & Exhibition Management Services (CEMS)

Industry Partners

Union Representatives

Ladies and Gentlemen

1.   A very good afternoon to all of you. I really appreciate the fact that despite what is going on, we are able to continue, to come together face-to-face, to bring this conference services to our partners, and also to promote outcome-based contracting.

2.   First of all, let me congratulate the organisers for putting together this series of events today and this week, including the 19th Safety & Security Asia as well as the 17th Fire & Disaster Asia exhibitions. Even in a pandemic, these remain important topics for all of us in our day-to-day, so it is very commendable that you have pressed on to bring various stakeholders and bring various people together, to share your views and your outlook, on these aspects and ideas.

3.   The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about great challenges to all our lives, disrupting many industries, and forcing companies to adapt and change the way they look at things, and the way they operate. The security industry was no different as it saw new roles, new functions and new demands emerge, and thrust upon agencies as well as the officers alike. It has not been easy, but it is very heartening to see everyone stepping up in these exceptional times. As 2021 comes to a close, and we all look forward to a better year ahead, we must continue to remain vigilant and work together to ensure that we facilitate Singapore’s re-opening as safely and securely as possible.

4.   Beyond this pandemic, there are other medium to longer-term challenges that my colleagues have also highlighted in their speeches just now. Singapore will need to grapple with some of these challenges, such as ageing population and a slower workforce growth. The security industry is known to consist of older workers. Today, about half the workforce is aged 55 years and above, and this could go up to 60% by the year 2030. So, a big question for the security industry would be – how can we continue to meet the demand for security services in a sustainable way?

5.   Outcome-based contracting (OBC), is important in addressing this. Much has been said about the merits of OBC, so I will just make three points.

6.   First, for security agencies, it is about shifting away from traditional manpower intensive models, and to offer more innovative solutions which integrate technology as well as job and process redesign, to not only enhance productivity, but at the same time, improve security outcomes.

7.   Second, for service buyers, it is about building a long-term relationship with the service providers, to think through holistically about your needs and co-create desired outcomes. I know some have wondered about the impact on cost, but the good news is that security technology has evolved over the years and is much more affordable today. Coupled with job and process redesign, they can help to lower longer-term costs.

8.   Third and most important of all, for security officers, they also stand to benefit from more meaningful job scopes and better working conditions. They will be more effective and focused because more of their functions will be facilitated by technology and optimised processes. This will be a more sustainable approach compared to the past, where they have often been bogged down by mundane, manual tasks such as recording visitor information and registration.

9.   What I have just mentioned are some of the key reasons why the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), together with our tripartite partners, have been actively promoting best practices in procurement of security services through OBCs. It also remains one of the key strategies under the Security Industry Transformation Map. 

10.   I am happy to share that the Government is taking the lead with OBC adoption. From May 2020, all Government Procuring Entities are required to adopt OBCs for their security services. As presented by Singapore Police Force’s Centre for Protective Security (CPS) earlier today, the successful implementation of OBCs by Land Transport Authority and National Heritage Board had allowed them to benefit from higher quality and cost-effective security services. As the Government moves towards 100% adoption of OBCs in the next few years, we hope this will encourage more private sector entities and private sector buyers to follow suit.

11.   A promising example of OBC adoption has been exemplified by FormTeam Consultancy which has adopted the use of 24-hour command centres, visitor management systems and body-worn cameras to enhance its security offerings at its deployment sites. At one of their smaller sites, a condominium, the adoption of technology has allowed security officers to perform their duties more effectively through automated tasks such as visitor registration and access control. With the new processes, FormTeam saw productivity gains of over 80% with less time spent byofficers on manual tasks. Manpower savings of about 50% also allowed them to re-deploy more of their officers at different sites and more sites. FormTeam’s experience illustrates how it is possible for big and small players alike, to enhance your processes, by optimising manpower at potentially lower longer-term costs without compromising security outcomes.

12.   In MHA’s Security Industry Survey 2020, about seven in ten buyers who have yet to adopt OBCs plan to do so in the next two years, and this is very encouraging. More said they would do so when they are more familiar with what these contracts entail. So, there are some levels of uncertainty and lack of information as well.

13.   So, I really appreciate the efforts of the security industry associations, which have come out strongly to help the industry gain familiarity of OBCs. The Association of Certified Security Agencies is launching a step-by-step Guide at this Conference to introduce security agencies and service buyers to OBCs with the intent of guiding them along tender processes. In 2022, the Security Association Singapore plans to launch an online outcome-based tender generator and repository called OBX, which will provide an easy-to-use platform that will help buyers make the jump to OBCs.

14.   There are also other ready resources and training available to help service buyers embark on their OBC journey. For example:

a.   A guide on OBC security contracts is available on MHA’s website to help buyers adopt OBC;
b.   CPS provides consultation and guides buyers transiting to OBCs, including a soon-to-be-launched OBC resource portal; and
c.   Temasek Polytechnic’s Security Industry Institute has stepped up in the last few years to provide resources and training, specifically on OBCs. 

15.   Conferences such as today provide an excellent platform for us to learn from buyers and security agencies who have already transited to OBC. I would especially like to thank all the “mini-Ambassadors” who are helping us spread the message of OBC, as nothing beats hearing the experience of someone from the industry directly who have walked the journey before us.

16.   It is crucial to transform demand for security services, in tandem with the continued transformation of the industry. MHA remains committed to this cause, and we will work closely with all our partners to keep up the strong momentum. Let’s continue to work together for the safety and security of Singapore.

17.   I wish all of you a fruitful discussion ahead.

18.   Thank you.