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Agenda 2024

The Global Government Leaders’ Forum 2024 brings together heads of civil services from across the global and senior managers from Singapore.

23 January
08:30 – 09:00

Registration and Networking 

09:00 – 09:10


09:10 – 09:25

Welcome Address  

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

09:25 – 10:30

Modernising the civil service – and how you fit in

What capabilities and cultures must civil service leaders nurture within their organisations in order to meet the challenges of today’s tumultuous, fast-changing world? Working with Lord O’Donnell, former UK Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, Global Government Forum has carried out research to develop a ‘blueprint for a modern public service’ – interviewing heads of civil services from around the world to gather their views on topics from strategy to skills, technology to trust. At this session, Lord O’Donnell will set out the project’s findings, explore the implications for civil service leaders and managers, and take questions from the audience.

Followed by audience Q&A including presentation from:

  • Lord Gus O’Donnell, former UK Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service

10:30 – 11:00

Refreshment break

11:00 – 12:00

Achieving real transformation: a modern approach to civil service productivity

Over the years, civil services around the world have pursued a wide range of efficiency agendas – with mixed results. Digitally-enabled procurement reforms have often cut costs and improved outcomes, for example, but few shared services schemes have realised their potential. Outsourcing programmes have produced good savings, but sometimes weakened public sector capabilities: many governments have since reclaimed some delivery operations. Now digital technologies offer a host both of new opportunities, and of novel pitfalls. At this session, a panel of civil service experts will discuss the lessons of past efficiency drives and explore the techniques and agendas most likely to produce big savings over the coming years.

Panel discussion followed by audience Q&A


  • Jamie Ang, Deputy Secretary, Public Service Division, Singapore

12:00 – 13:00

Let’s chat bots: the benefits and risks of emerging AI

Over the last year, we’ve seen a step change in Artificial Intelligence: ‘Large Language Model’ (LLM) systems such as ChatGPT have democratised the technology, providing free and highly accessible text-based AI services. Once the preserve of specialised technologists, AI tools are now available to all; and LLMs dramatically expand their potential applications in fields such as research, project management, recruitment and report production. Like all AI systems, LLMs come with risks attached – including novel problems, such as their tendency to invent material in ‘hallucinations’. Now civil services must find ways to address those risks, taking advantage of their huge potential to boost efficiency and effectiveness. At this session, a panel of senior leaders will discuss how and where these technologies can best be applied, and how to develop and enforce policies governing the use of these remarkable tools.

Panel discussion followed by audience Q&A 


  • Taimar Peterkop, State Secretary, Government Office, Estonia
  • Sau Sheong Chang, Deputy Chief Executive, Government Technology Agency, Singapore

13:00 – 14:00

Networking lunch

14:00 – 15:00

An equitable path to net zero: economic transformations and just transitions

In many parts of the world, people are already experiencing the effects of climate change – stoking popular support for action to cut CO2 emissions. But the task of decarbonising economies is a massive one, creating losers as well as winners: at this session, a panel of civil service leaders will explore how governments can build and maintain public support for the green transition. How to enable a green transition while tackling poverty? How can workforces and businesses in carbon-intensive industries be supported to find new forms of income? Which forms of green infrastructure investments or environmental improvements attract the most public interest and support? And how can public bodies provide clear public benefits while decarbonising their own operations? Without radical changes, humans face a grim future – but securing popular support for radical change is no easy task.

Panel discussion followed by audience Q&A


  • Franz Manderson, Deputy Governor and Head of the Civil Service, Cayman Islands
  • Keith Tan, Deputy Secretary (Industry), Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore

15:00 -15:30

Refreshment break

15:30 – 16:30

Addressing today’s crises and tomorrow’s catastrophes

Civil services must be able to respond rapidly and effectively to crises such as the pandemic; but this flexibility should be combined with an ability to maintain progress on longer-term goals – including the work of planning for future emergencies. It is a sad irony that, as the UK’s COVID-19 Inquiry has heard, during 2016-19 the country’s pandemic preparations were deprioritised as civil servants focused on the immediate challenge of planning for a no-deal Brexit. And ever since the pandemic, many governments’ work on huge, slow-moving challenges such as climate change and demographic issues has been slowed by a series of fresh challenges, including Ukraine and spiralling inflation. At this session, a panel of very senior leaders will consider how civil servants can both respond effectively to today’s crises, and continue the crucial work required to address longer-term threats that will otherwise generate tomorrow’s catastrophes.

Panel discussion followed by audience Q&A


  • Aileen Lourdes Lizada, Commissioner, Civil Service Commission, Philippines
  • Cindy Khoo, Deputy Secretary, Strategy Group, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore
  • Joyce Dimech, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government, Malta

16:30 – 16:40

Summary and closing remarks

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