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Agenda 2020

The inaugural 2020 Global Government Leaders’ Forum brought Summit delegates together with senior managers from Singapore and neighbouring countries.

30 January
13:30 – 14:00

Registration and Networking 

14:00 – 14:15

Welcome Address  

Hosted by the Singapore Civil Service and Leo Yip, Head, Civil Service, Singapore 


14:15 – 15:15

Leading Digital Transformation    

Digital transformation has huge potential benefits for public servants and citizens alike – promising more accessible, fast and convenient services for the public, and dramatic improvements in impact and efficiency for the staff who serve them. But to realise these opportunities, civil service leaders must reshape their organisations around the nature and characteristics of digital technologies – moving on from the hierarchical, process-driven, vertically-oriented structures and cultures found in governments around the world. For while many civil services are built around the discrete, vertical structures underpinning political accountability, digital technologies tend to operate on the horizontal plane.

In project development, for example, digital projects are best pursued iteratively – with technology professionals, frontline staff, business owners and service users collaborating to shape service design. That in turn demands partnership working across professional boundaries, with finance and HR staff playing roles as important as those of digital specialists and project managers. Many digital schemes rest on data-sharing across government, requiring financial and governance structures to match their new information networks. And innovation – both a source and an outcome of true digital transformation – is a bottom-up process, not a top-down one.

For civil service managers, the digital agenda presents a new set of goals, programmes and working methods – demanding a very different approach to leadership. In this session, panellists and the audience will explore the skills, experience and behaviours required of senior officials to lead digital transformation in the 2020s.

Confirmed panellists:

Tan Kok Yam, Deputy Secretary, Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, and Strategy Group, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore
Taimar Peterkop, Secretary of State, Government Office, Estonia
Kevin Cunnington, Director General of International Government Service, United Kingdom
Katherine Jones, Deputy Secretary, Department of Finance, Australia
Mikhail Pryadilnikov, Head, Center of Competence for Digital Government Transformation; and Deputy Director, Analytic Center for the Russian Government, Russia

Followed by group discussion

15:15 – 15:45

Coffee Break


15:45 to 16:45

Leading on Environmental Sustainability   

To address environmental challenges, civil service leaders must catalyse action both across and beyond government. For these issues reach into almost every field of public policy, and demand changes in wider society – in citizens’ behaviours and attitudes, for example. So departments must work together to balance the needs of different interest groups; they must collaborate with the wider public sector, industry bodies and civil society; and they must engage directly with citizens, businesses and charities, building consensus around action and agreeing a way forward.

But this need for strong horizontal collaboration and public engagement sits awkwardly with traditional civil service models, which tend to look inwards and upwards rather than outwards and downwards. The requirement for sustained, long-term action to address many environmental challenges provides a parallel challenge to civil service policymaking and performance management structures, which are typically built around relatively short budgetary and political cycles. And most governments struggle to prioritise preventive programmes, which are often outgunned by the urgent pressures on reactive services.

Yet if governments are to protect their citizens from huge future costs and harm, they must get a grip of sustainability issues – and that means adapting civil service managers’ working practices and leadership styles to today’s challenges, tools and cultures. This session will consider the skills and techniques required of contemporary civil service leaders working on environmental issues, covering topics such as cross-departmental collaboration, public engagement, long-term planning and international action.

Confirmed panellists:

Catherine Blewett, Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet, Canada
Suma Chakrabarti, President, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), United Kingdom
H.E. Win Thein, Chairman, The Union Civil Service Board (UCSB), Myanmar
Catarina Maria
Romão Gonçalves, Deputy General Secretary of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Portugal

Followed by group discussion

16:45 – 17:30




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