First Responder Protocol on Animal-Related Feedback (FRP)
Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Prior to the First Responder Protocol (FRP) initiative, members of the public who require assistance or action from public agencies on animal-related matters would not know which agency to call to provide feedback. However, animal-related issues are usually complex and the effective resolution of such issues often requires the efforts and cooperation of various government agencies. For instance, jurisdiction over areas within national parks, roads and pavements, environmental cleanliness, drains and sewers, etc, are all under different agencies. There are many animal species, such as mynahs, monkeys, wild boars which are not under the specific purview of any agency. Moreover, animals are generally mobile and can move from the space under the purview of one public agency to another. As a result, the public may be referred from one agency to another, depending on the location of the animal at the point of feedback. Members of the public were unhappy that they were being “pushed from pillar to post” from one agency to another.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) was appointed to be the agency to pilot the Singapore Government’s First Responder Protocol pertaining to animal-related feedback with effect from 1 March 2012. As First Responder, AVA coordinates and liaises with relevant government agencies using a Whole-of-Government approach to address public feedback on animal-related issues. An inter-agency working group which comprises representatives from AVA, National Parks Board (NParks), National Environment Agency (NEA), Singapore Police Force (SPF), Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Housing and Development Board (HDB) and the Public Service Division (PSD) was formed to support AVA’s role as First Responder, and to facilitate effective communication, collaboration and resolution of operational and policy issues among relevant agencies. The establishment of AVA as First Responder on animal-related issues improved collaboration and response time between government agencies in attending to animal-related feedback. As First Responder, AVA coordinates the responses of relevant agencies to ensure that swift and effective actions are taken by the respective agencies. AVA also fronts the replies to feedback providers. Members of the public are no longer pushed from “pillar to post” on their feedback on animal-related matters. They can now call AVA at the Animal Response Call Centre, a 24- hour mainline to provide feedback on animal-related issues. AVA will take the lead in coordinating and collaborating with other agencies to address and respond to members of public on animal issues.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Often, agencies do not function beyond their traditional mandate. Where issues are multi-faceted or complicated, they may not fall neatly under any single agencies’ purview, and this lack of clarity could compromise the quality and timeliness of service to the public. The conventional approach to resolve such matters is to amalgamate the respective functions to resolve the issue into a single agency. However, it could result in massive bureaucracies with overly wide mandates, which could impede organisational efficiency and effectiveness at the organisation level and the overall government level. This initiative is innovative as it allows such issues to be resolved without fundamentally changing the structure of the respective agencies. It is akin to the matrix organisational structure, albeit elevated to the overall government level. This initiative, which is the first of its kind, also helps to pave the way for a mindset change by government agencies by showing how outcomes are improved when agencies are coordinated to serve the public better. The success of this initiative could encourage other public agencies to take up the role of First Responder on other complex matters.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
In July 2011, an inter-agency project team which comprised representatives from relevant public agencies was formed to enable the effective resolution of public feedback on animal-related matters via the use of the Design Thinking process which consisted of the following steps: a. Elucidate desired future; b. Discover the environment and users (stakeholder agencies and residents etc); c. Identify problems and needs; d. Test prototype solution; and e. Design solution to meet user needs. The result was the formation of the First Responder Protocol (FRP) for animal-related issues in January 2012, which AVA was the lead agency. An inter-agency workgroup on animal-related matters, comprising staff involved in operations and policy from the various agencies, also convened and met on a regular basis to form strong links between the various stakeholder agencies and to resolve teething issues in the implementation of operational procedures. To augment its capacity for carrying out the FRP role, AVA had to develop new and streamline existing processes and procedures. AVA officers also had to undergo training in understanding the behaviour and characteristics of new animal species, such as monkeys and snakes, and how to catch them – which they are not required to do so prior to our role as First Responder. As the role of First Responder requires deeper interaction with the public, AVA officers have also undergone training on customer management and dealing with difficult customers. AVA has also forged a public sector-private sector-people sector partnership to support our role as First Responder. Where feasible, AVA also tapped on the private sector to support our role as First Responder, for example, the delivery/collection of traps/trapped animals and catching of different species of stray and wild animals. In view of the more than 100% increase in the volume of public feedback on animal-related matters from 2011 to 2013, the contact centre which manned the 24/7 mainline on animal-related feedback was outsourced in Apr 2014. AVA also tapped on animal welfare groups (AWGs) for adoption of impounded stray animals and addressing animal nuisance issues. AVA also made known its FRP role in the media to raise public awareness of the initiative so that more members of the public will be able to use this channel for the resolution of animal-related issues. A flowchart depicting an overview of the FRP is attached.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Personnel from the National Parks Board (NParks), National Environment Agency (NEA), Singapore Police Force (SPF), Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Housing and Development Board (HDB) and the Public Service Division (PSD), AVA, Town Councils, as well as animal welfare groups contributed to the design and implementation of the initiative. The other stakeholders involved in the implementation are: a. Members of the public; b. Eco-experts/environmentalists.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
To form a dedicated unit within AVA that handled animal-related issues, the following resources had to be acquired: a. Funding for operating costs – about S$4 million in 2012 and 2013. b. Manpower - increase in staff strength of 27 officers c. Engagement of external experts for the building up of capacity in animal-related matters d. Engagement of external contractors for the operationalising of the FRP (including call centre and animal control services) e. Purchase of equipment (including animal traps) A new structure was also created within AVA to better support AVA’s role as First Responder on animal-related matters. Additional funding and manpower are provided by the Government of Singapore.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
With the establishment of the FRP on animal-related issues, the public can now call AVA at the Animal Response Call Centre, a 24 hour mainline to report animal-related issues. This has led to the following service level improvements from the perspective of the public/feedback provider: a. One point of contact – From the perspective of the public/feedback provider, they need only contact one agency, i.e. AVA, for animal-related issues. Thus, the objective of improving public service by not having the public being “bounced around” from one agency to another is met. b. Seamless service experience – Working with public agencies in a connected and coordinated manner provides a seamless service experience to the public. Such a seamless experience reduces lapses in service delivery due to better coordination of issues between agencies. c. Timely response – In cases where the ownership of the issue is unclear, AVA takes the first step to investigate and verify the facts in the feedback, and where required, coordinate with relevant agencies to work together address the feedback.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The interagency workgroup on animal-related matters met on a regular basis, i.e. monthly during the initial phase and now quarterly - to monitor and evaluate the progress of the initiative. The workgroup also discusses ways to improve operations and interagency collaborations between the stakeholder agencies. Quarterly updates on the progress of implementation and issues faced were also made to the Executive Committee overseeing public sector service excellence efforts, which was chaired by Head Civil Service.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Since taking on the role of First Responder, AVA has been receiving an increasing number of feedback on animal-related issues, mainly due to various media publications on the role. Prior to the establishment of AVA’s role as First Responder, AVA received 7834 feedback from MOPs on animal-related issues. In 2012, with AVA as First Responder, the number of feedback received increased 22% to 9566. In 2013, the number of feedback received more than doubled from 2011 figures. In the first seven months of 2014, the number of feedback AVA received has almost reached the same number as the total feedback received in the whole of 2013. Apart from the increase in number of feedback received, the scale and scope of work required to resolve each feedback has also increased due to the rise in public expectations. To overcome the challenges faced, AVA has been increasing its capability and capacity in such matters. The officers have undergone training to equip them with new skills, such as managing difficult customers and catching/handling new animal species e.g. snakes. AVA aims to manage animal-related issues as upstream as far as possible to manage the volume of feedback downstream. For example, AVA is exploring with relevant agencies on “monkey-proofing” new residential developments to minimise human-monkey conflicts, as well as sterilisation to manage the population size of monkeys. AVA is also exploring the engagement of external consultants to study and better understand how best to manage the population of other animal species such as monitor lizards – before they reach tipping point and create extensive public safety and nuisance issues. AVA is continuously looking to build up the capabilities of the private sector so that they can provide support to the First Responder role. The 24/7 contact centre was outsourced to the private sector with effect from 1 Apr 2014. The private sector is also supporting AVA in animal control operations to remove dogs, cats, monkeys, wild boars and other wildlife. AVA’s contractor is presently responsible for the delivery/collection of dog/cat/monkey traps, and trapped animals. AVA will also be tapping on the private sector to provide on-site surveillance and investigation services to address non-complex public feedback.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
With the establishment of the FRP on animal-related issues, the public can now call AVA at the Animal Response Call Centre, a 24 hour mainline to report animal-related issues. This has led to the following service level improvements from the perspective of the public/feedback provider: a. One point of contact – From the perspective of the public/feedback provider, they need only contact one agency, i.e. AVA, for animal-related issues. Thus, the objective of improving public service by not having the public being “bounced around” from one agency to another is met. b. Seamless service experience – Working with public agencies in a connected and coordinated manner provides a seamless service experience to the public. Such a seamless experience reduces lapses in service delivery due to better coordination of issues between agencies. c. Prompt response – In cases where the ownership of the issue is unclear, AVA takes the first step to investigate and verify the facts in the feedback, and where required, coordinate with relevant agencies to work together address the feedback. Examples of inter-agency cooperation that were / would have been enabled by the project Example 1: In January 2008, two white-bellied sea eagles landed on the balcony of a private property. One appeared to be injured while the other appeared dead. The home owner called a total of five agencies requesting for assistance to deal with the eagles. Help only arrived six hours later as he was repeatedly passed around to different agencies. With AVA as First Responder for animal-related issues, members of public will not face the same difficulties. Example 2: AVA attended to a case of noise nuisance caused by frogs. AVA determined that the frogs were breeding within a drain and worked with two agencies, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) and National Environment Agency (NEA) on cleaning up the drainage area to reduce the breeding of frogs. This example illustrates how even a seemingly simple case could involve multiple government agencies, as drainage infrastructure comes under the PUB’s purview, whereas NEA is responsible for the cleanliness of the environment. Prior to the initiative, the member of the public who gave the feedback would have had to contact both PUB as well as NEA on this matter. Example 3: The initiative makes it easy for the public to receive assistance in cases whereby the subject matter does not clearly fall under any single agency’s purview. AVA received a call one evening from a resident who claimed that he had captured a “baby crocodile” inside his fish tank, and requested for AVA’s assistance on the removal of the crocodile. AVA officers responded immediately and found out that the “baby crocodile was actually a commonly encountered House Gecko. AVA officers were glad to have had the opportunity to inform the resident about the commonly encountered urban animals in Singapore. Prior to the initiative, the resident would have likely been referred from agency to agency due to the ambiguity over which agency had the responsibility to assist in such a situation.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The concept of having a single agency coordinate the provision of government services in an integrated manner is being replicated at the national level. The government announced in Aug 2014 that a new Municipal Services Office will be set up to serve residents in a more seamless way. It will get different government agencies to work more closely together to serve the needs of residents, especially when responsibilities are split between agencies. The First Responder Protocol is also being explored for other issues which extend beyond the purview of one agency. The creation of this protocol requires a build up of staff capabilities and capacities to provide the service level expected. This would mean extra budgeting of operating and manpower expenses.

 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)
AVA’s implementation of the FR project has been successful and has won the recognition from the public sector. The project won a Best Practice Award for inter-agency collaboration from the Deputy Prime Minister in May 2014, as well as a Minister’s Award (Team) from the Minister for National Development in Aug 2014 in recognition of the project’s significant team-based contributions and extensive impact on the Ministry. When it comes to potentially complex matters relating to delivery of government services to the public, it is important to understand the point of view of the public. Feedback providers expect their feedback to be looked into at the first point of contact and not referred from one agency to another. Public agencies would have to agree on heightened levels on cooperation and coordination, and adapt their processes so as to be more customer-centric. The formation of an inter-agency group is important and useful to resolve any gaps and overlaps between agencies conscientiously. This helps provide clarity to responses and helps improve overall service delivery. It is both an art and a science to predict the possible increase in feedback so as to plan the resources accordingly. We are discovering that the scope of each feedback has expanded and requires more resources and time to resolve them. This adds to the workload and work pressure on officers in the FRP role.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority
Institution Type:   Public Agency  
Contact Person:   Hon Mun Wong
Title:   Group Director, Agri Establishment Regulation Grou  
Telephone/ Fax:   +65-63257625
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   wong_hon_mun@ava.gov.sg  
Address:   5 Maxwell Rd #02-03,Tower Block, MND Complex
Postal Code:   Singapore 069110
City:   Singapore
State/Province:   Singapore
Country:  

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