Operating hours of CSG application portal

The COVID-19 Support Grant (CSG) provides assistance and job support to Singaporeans who have lost their jobs or experienced salary loss due to COVID-19. I asked the Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Masogos Zulkifli, why online applications for the CSG can be submitted only between 9am and 6pm, and asked if MSF will consider allowing online applications 24 hours a day (except for periodic maintenance windows). 

His reply was that MSF had considered longer operating hours but decided against it so as to provide more maintenance hours each day (his full answer is below). I find this rather puzzling, since most other public-facing IT systems operate for much longer hours, and many are 24/7. Limiting the CSG portal’s operating hours means that we cannot assist residents, many of whom are not IT-savvy, with their applications during meet-the-people sessions, as these take place after 7.30pm. (To work around this, our volunteers arrange separate times during the day to assist them.) There could also be many other residents who have to work during the day and are only available to submit their applications after office hours. 

I hope the Government will take the different needs of citizens into consideration when planning the availability of government e-services.

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SUBMISSION OF ONLINE APPLICATIONS FOR COVID-19 SUPPORT GRANT LIMITED TO WORKING HOURS

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) why online applications for the COVID-19 Support Grant can only be submitted between 9 am and 6 pm; and (b) whether the Ministry will consider allowing online application 24 hours a day, except for periodic maintenance windows. 

Mr Masagos Zulkifli B M M: The COVID-19 Support Grant (CSG) provides assistance and job support to Singaporean & Permanent Resident (PR) employees who have lost their jobs, been involuntarily placed on No-Pay Leave (NPL), or experienced significant loss of salary due to the economic impact of COVID-19.

Since the scheme was launched in May 2020, we have received over 180,000 CSG applications, 96% of which were submitted online. Applications for CSG will remain open until December 2020. The online portal is open every day, including weekends and public holidays, to allow Singaporeans sufficient time and opportunity to apply for assistance. Our assessment is that this has been adequate to meet the needs of most applicants.

Prior to launch, we had considered the possibility of longer operating hours each day, but we eventually decided on daily operating hours of 9am to 6pm, taking into account the need to allow sufficient time each day to closely monitor system performance, perform system maintenance and updates, and troubleshoot problems in a timely fashion to minimise any unplanned downtime and to ensure that applicants would receive a sustainable and reliable level of service. We will continue to monitor the availability and level of service of the online portal, taking into account user feedback.

Source: Singapore Parliament Reports. https://sprs.parl.gov.sg/search/sprs3topic?reportid=written-answer-na-6684

Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.