Government Advertising KPIs

MP He Ting Ru

Ms He Ting Ru (Sengkang): Mr Chairman, in today’s interconnected world, state agencies, like other public facing entities and corporations need to conduct outreach. This is understandable. Singaporeans need and deserve timely accurate and useful information about public services, and also about the work that our Public Service does.

What Singaporeans are less informed about is the effectiveness of public relations, outreach and advertising campaigns, run by state agencies. Campaigns and actions run on public money should be accountable to the public, not just in terms of whether there is wrongdoing. There is little indication that this is the case, but it is also about how the money is spent and how effective that expenditure is.

Responding to a Parliamentary Question posed last year, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) estimated that Government spend $150 million to $175 million in advertising in FY2019, with increases of between 30% and 50% in FY2020 and FY 2021. MCI estimated then, for the first half of FY 2022, were between $50 million and $75 million.

Recently, Singaporeans have also noticed prominent advertising campaigns relating to Ministry of National Development (MND)’s efforts to keep public housing affordable. While public awareness and education efforts are necessary, these are still large sums of money. Additionally, the reply to the same Parliamentary Question above also notes that MCI does not track clicks and impressions as each Ministry is responsible for its own advertising budget and effectiveness.

It appears to be a missed opportunity here. MCI should assess the effectiveness of the various different campaigns and outreach programmes across Ministries into which Singapore puts our funds. This will give a better holistic view on how these programmes and campaigns are evaluated and thus adjusted to improve effects or, if necessary, cut for under performance. What are the obstacles in either tracking the effectiveness of these campaigns or publishing reports of KPIs? How else could we address the concerns above? After all, fiscal prudence also means that we need to be able to maximise the bang for our buck, when it comes to spending public funds.

Ministry of Communications and Information
28 February 2023

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