Govt petition platform ‘never been live’, idea now canned: GovTech | #government | #hacking | #cyberattack

SINGAPORE — The Government Technology Agency (GovTech) said that it has canned an idea in which a petition website would reportedly have been used to submit petitions to relevant government ministries if more than 10,000 signatures were garnered. GovTech added that the platform has “never been live”.

In an email on Thursday (May 5) in response to TODAY’s queries, GovTech said that the Government “actively seeks out views and concerns of citizens through various channels but we do not make decisions on the basis of petitions”. 

The agency’s response came less than a day after The Straits Times published a report about the PetitionsSG website developed by GovTech’s Open Government Products unit.

The report stated that Singaporeans “may soon get a new avenue to voice their concerns through a platform where petitions that garner 10,000 supporters will be submitted to the relevant ministries for review”.

It said the 10,000 signatures would have to have been collected within 180 days. The ministries would then be given 90 days to respond. 

A senior software engineer who worked on the project told The Straits Times that PetitionsSG was created with the aim of empowering citizens to push for change and to connect important ground sentiment to ministries.

In its response, GovTech told TODAY that the website was an “exploratory prototype created during Open Government Products’ annual Hack for Public Good” event but the team has since decided “to not pursue this idea”.

Hack for Public Good is a month-long event where its officers take a break from non-core projects to work on a public good problem that interests them.

On GovTech’s website, it is stated that the Open Government Products unit is “an experimental development team built from the ground up to function like a modern tech company working on public sector problems”. One of its creations is the widely used Parking.SG mobile application.

When TODAY tried to access the PetitionsSG website at around 8.15pm on Thursday, a message on the website stated that the website is no longer available. 

GovTech said: “The website quoted in the article was built for internal user testing during the hackathon, but has not accepted any live petitions or signatures.”

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