Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
While the private sector has already started offering e-letters to their customers, there was no single platform where citizens can receive e-letters from both the government prior to this initiative. Some of the government agencies do send some form of electronic correspondences to residents (for example, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore offers personal income tax statements on MyTax portal). However, the functionalities are limited. The public general finds it cumbersome and confusing having to log in to various portals using different usernames and passwords. Upon receiving hardcopy letter, should the letter content require further actions online, for example to proceed with electronic payment of personal income tax online, it was counter-intuitive to users as they had to manually key in the URL on a PC or mobile device with internet access. From the agencies’ perspective, letters were sent using snail mail postal services. There was not guaranteed delivery unless they were sent using registered mail which incurred even higher costs. Also, senders had no visibility as to whether letters sent were eventually read or not. Surveys and polls conducted show that many individuals prefer to receive electronic letters (e-letters) from the government instead of hardcopy letters. OneInbox aims to provide greater convenience to individuals by aggregating essential correspondence from government agencies such that individuals only need to log onto OneInbox to access all their correspondences with the government.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Who proposed the solution? In 2009, the Ministry of Finance Singapore (MOF) and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) formed a team together with multiple government agencies (including Ministry of Manpower, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, Central Provident Fund Board, Housing Development Board and Ministry of Defence) to conduct a study on the business case and implementation approach for a new digital mailbox service - OneInbox. Findings from the study showed strong business case for the proposed initiative: 1. high demand from the public for electronic letters 2. substantial interest among government agencies to send letters through a consolidated electronic platform 3. return-of-investment over after years in 2010, IDA proceeded to seek approval from MOF to implement OneInbox to deliver electronic correspondences to residents in place of hardcopy correspondences. What is OneInbox all about? OneInbox is a new digital mailbox service offered free of charge. It allows users to view, file and track their government correspondence such as notices or statements securely online, anywhere, anytime. Users of OneInbox can customise many of its features to meet their individual needs and preferences. They can also access agencies’ e-payment services or other relevant e-services immediately through hyperlinks. OneInbox today offers a total of 14 e-letter types from 5 government agencies for subscription. Individuals can access OneInbox at, or via the eCitizen portal ( or the OneInbox mobile apps (available for iOS and Android). The features available on OneInbox include: • Login via SingPass (Short for Singapore Personal Access, a common password to transact with various Singapore Government online services). • Email alerts to notify the arrival of correspondences in OneInbox • Forwarding to preferred email account(s); • Save a local copy / print friendly version of correspondences; • 18 months online archival/retention of correspondences; • Hyperlinks to agencies’ e-payment systems if payment is required; • Allow agencies to track whether the recipient has received the correspondences. Strategy The strategy in delivering OneInbox solution was to implement it as part of the eCitizen Portal Revamp project. The eCitizen portal, a first-stop website that offers the latest and comprehensive list of e-services from government agencies, was to be enhanced with a minimalist design centred on a search feature that is intuitive and more user-friendly. Users can find relevant government content and e-services right away by typing in keywords or questions in the search bar. The eCitizen Portal Revamp project aims to transform the eCitizen Portal ( to keep pace with the more sophisticated demands of an increasingly-mature netizen community. As the principal online government gateway, a modern eCitizen is also essential to anchor Singapore’s reputation as a forward-looking and world-class eGovernment. The vision for the revamped eCitizen Portal is: “To be the official Government Portal for citizens and residents, delivering integrated and personalised information and services through the web and mobile channels”. As part of the eCitizen Portal Revamp project, OneInbox was delivered as digital mail service for government agencies to send letters to the public. As OneInbox gains more traction, the plan is to enhance the system to deliver Government to Business (G2B) letters (ie. Letters addressed to individuals representing business entities). The target audiences for OneInbox are IT-savvy citizens who prefer to receive electronic letters from the government instead of hardcopy. OneInbox aims to provide greater convenience to individuals by aggregating essential correspondence from government agencies such that individuals only need to log onto OneInbox to access all their correspondences with the government. At the same time, OneInbox will help defray postage and stationery costs for the Government and enable Government to enjoy economies of scale through the use of a single aggregated platform.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
(1) Allowing ease of sign up and login Individuals require only sign up using SingPass. Upon signing up, they would be able to login using SingPass. (2) Ensuring security and Guaranteed delivery E-letters are stored on a secure online platform and delivery is guaranteed. (3) Adopting Opt-in Model for subscription E-letters subscription is based on opt-in concept. OneInbox users are given the choice to subscribe to or unsubscribe from the various e-letter types. (4) Providing access to the service Anytime, Anywhere OneInbox is accessible on supported devices and platforms as long as individuals have internet access. Other than the web version, OneInbox is also available as mobile apps on iPhone, iPad, Android phones and Android tablets. (5) Providing intuitive and user-friendly user interface OneInbox has a minimalist design centered on digital mailbox features that are intuitive and user-friendly. The user interface on both web and mobile are designed to be similar to popular online-based email applications like Gmail or Yahoo mail. (6) Providing alerts Recipients of e-letters will also get email alerts as a reminder to login to OneInbox and view the letter (7) Allowing Immediate actions can be taken upon receipt of letter OneInbox users can complete relevant transactions easier and faster by accessing related websites and e-services directly from the e-letters

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
OneInbox action plan: 1. 2009 a. Conduct study on the business case and implementation approach for digital mailbox 2. 2010 a. Seek approval to implement OneInbox as part of eCitizen Portal Revamp 3. 2011 a. Contract for eCitizen Portal Revamp was awarded to vendor 4. 2011-2012 a. Detailed functional requirements gathering from participating agencies b. System development 5. 2012 a. System development b. System testing c. System soft launch 6. 2013-2014 a. System commission b. Sustenance campaign (Publicity) i. Print and digital marketing ii. Incentive drive with social media engagement (Facebook, Twitter, etc) iii. Leverage on marketing channels of various government agencies iv. Lucky draws for signing up c. Engagement with participating government agencies to avail more letters on OneInbox d. Engagement with other government agencies to i. come on board OneInbox ii. elicit user requirements for business letters e. Conceptualisation of OneInbox Phase 2 to i. Send business letters addressed to employees (receiving of letters on behalf of business entities) f. Implementation of system enhancements

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Ministry of Finance (MOF) is the system owner and IDA manages the OneInbox programme for MOF. The pioneer agencies onboard OneInbox, namely, Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB), and Housing Development Board (HDB), formed the key stakeholders of OneInbox. A Steering Committee (SC) comprising of Director-level (or above) officers from the respective agencies above were formed to provide strategic guidance on the development and operations of OneInbox. At working level, OneInbox Core Team (CT) comprising of officers with a mix of technical, security and business domain knowledge was formed to define requirements, design, develop and maintain OneInbox.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Development cost is fully funded by MOF. Operational cost for the initial 3-years is co-funded between the participating agencies and MOF. Thereafter, operational costs will be fully borne by agencies, recovered through transaction charges for each e-letter delivered by the respective agencies. OneInbox services remain free-of-charge to the public.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
G2C benefits Ease of sign up and login Individuals require only sign up using SingPass (a common password to transact with various Singapore Government online services). Upon signing up, they would be able to login using SingPass to subscribe and receive e-letters from various government agencies. Security and Guaranteed delivery E-letters are stored on a secure online platform and delivery is guaranteed. Anytime, Anywhere OneInbox is accessible on supported devices and platforms as long as individuals have internet access. OneInbox is specially designed and optimised for different channels and devices. Other than the web version, we have OneInbox mobile applications on iPhone, iPad, Android phones and Android tablets. Alerts Recipients of e-letters will also get email alerts as a reminder to login to OneInbox and view the letter G2B benefits Cost benefits for agencies Once a subscriber opts in to letters to be sent on OneInbox, agencies will stop sending the hardcopy equivalent. This amounts to significant cost savings on printing and postage for agencies in the long run.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Monitoring of KPIs: (1) Cost savings Government agencies have incurred less cost per letter sent. (2) Customer satisfaction We have received numerous suggestions to make available more letters from government agencies and feedback on ease of use. (3) Sign up rate The sign-up rate is being monitored weekly. During major publicity like road shows and publishing of print ads, the sign-up rate was monitored on daily basis to measure the effectiveness of the publicity. Sign up rate is grown by approximately 300% since publicity started. (4) Interest from government agencies Several government agencies have approached the OneInbox project manager with interest to deliver letters via OneInbox.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main obstacle during implementation was the difficulty in interfacing with the participating agencies. Each agency has a different backend system and existing processes in sending letters. To address the different needs as well as to ensure ease of interfacing (for new agencies in the future), the interface specifications were kept simple and generic. In IDA’s agencies engagement efforts, the main obstacle encountered was agencies resistance to change their backend systems to deliver letters via OneInbox, often citing enhancement and operational cost as the obstacles. This was overcome with partial funding as an incentive for new agencies to start sending letters using OneInbox.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Convenience to the Public Besides providing a one-stop access to all e-letters from the government anytime, anywhere, public users will be able take immediate action for e-letters that require their follow-ups. For example, pay or complete a transaction with the government, OneInbox can re-direct public users to the relevant government agency’s e-Service via hyperlinks within the e-letter or posted on OneInbox. For a start, through email notification services, public users are alerted faster when they’ve received new e-letters as compared to checking physical mailboxes to see if they received any letters. And, with unread email reminders, it greatly reduces the occurrence of unattended letters. OneInbox also allows public users to access past letters they received from the government, and reduces the need for them to call up the government agencies should they misplace their hardcopy letters. For those who prefer or are accustomed to using their personal email accounts, OneInbox allows them to forward the e-letters to their preferred personal email account. This can be done by manually selecting a letter to forward or automatically through pre-defined rules. OneInbox allows public users to organize and track their e-letters using folders. For example, the “Flagged” folder allows them to highlight or mark e-letters that are important, “Due Soon” folder, automatically filters e-letters that are approaching the action-by deadline, and personal folders allow public users to create folders according to their categorization preferences. OneInbox also provides filters which allow public users to quickly locate the e-letters. For example, filter-by-agencies to locate e-letters sent by a particular agency and filter-by-date to locate e-letters for a particular date range. User reviews (statistics as at September 2014) User rating for OneInbox as a government e-Service is provided on OneInbox portal. We found 46% of user ratings to be at 5 or 6 (on a scale of 1 to 6). User rating for the OneInbox mobile applications (iOS and Android) is at 3-3.5 on a scale of 1-5. OneInbox Helpdesk has received numerous positive feedback from the public on the usefulness of OneInbox as a digital mailbox platform as a replacement for of hardcopy letters.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
With rising trends of citizen engagements via electronic means, OneInbox serves as a sustainable platform for government agencies and even commercial entities (e.g. financial institutions etc.) to send letters electronically. Organisations that start sending letters through OneInbox will also enjoy cost savings immediately as the cost of sending per letter is lower than snail mail postage. There have also been numerous positive feedbacks from the public, many of which are requesting for more letter types to be sent via this whole of government platform. With OneInbox replacing hardcopy letters, carbon footprint is greatly reduced.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Lessons learned and recommendations i) Strong collaboration with participating agencies Ensuring the requirements of all participating agencies were catered for was one of the key challenges that the project team faced. However, we have fostered a close working relationship with the agencies’ representatives that paved the way for a collaborative environment where requirements can be deliberated and agreed upon. Despite having good support from the agencies, there were times that things didn’t go all that well. For example, last minute additional requirements demand from the agencies and delay in confirming the requirements. ii) “Test and test” again As in any new e-Service, it was difficult to visualize how the system would materialize until it has been developed. This meant that we only got to experience the system during the User Acceptance Test (UAT) phase. Many iterations of testing were conducted, not only to weed out defects, but also to refine the functionalities of the system. Although, it was a very tedious journey, involving multiple stakeholders, we felt that it was effort well spent.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Shao Huan Lai
Title:   Senior Manager  
Telephone/ Fax:   65 62110697
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   10 Pasir Panjang Road #10-01 Mapletree Business City
Postal Code:   117438
City:   Singapore
State/Province:   Singapore

          Go Back

Print friendly Page