Senior Manager
Central Procurement Office
Vice Dean, Executive & Professional Development, School of Continuing and Lifelong Education
Senior Director, Lifelong Education, Office of the Senior Deputy President and Provost

OE heroes: Changing UPP Procurement Procedures for Lifelong Learning

NUS’ approach to place greater emphasis on lifelong learning has enabled some positive change to existing procurement policies. Just recently, the School of Continuing and Lifelong Education (SCALE), which regularly engages external instructors for short-term project-based engagements, championed an Organisational Excellence (OE) initiative to revise a University Procurement Policy (UPP) on Direct Contracting which will enable Faculties and Schools to reap considerable benefits.     

Faculties and Schools frequently appoint external parties, both individuals and organisations, to provide teaching or teaching-related services for a period not exceeding 12 months. It was revealed that according to the current UPP regulations, these engagements require an invitation for multiple quotes followed by an exception approval to use Direct Contracting to procure the said service. “We saw a pain point in this onerous engagement process and flagged it to Central Procurement Office (CPO) for attention – that’s how we kickstarted this project,” said Dr Chan Mun Kitt, former Senior Director (Corporate Services) at LKYSPP and now Vice Dean, Executive & Professional Development, SCALE and Senior Director (Lifelong Education), Office of the Senior Deputy President and Provost.

A revised procurement policy which will inevitably bypass Direct Contracting was proposed by Mun Kitt in partnership with Mr Gan Cheong Weei, Senior Manager at CPO.  The proposal calls for a change in the UPP to allow Contract for Service (CFS) not exceeding 12 months and below the ITQ threshold ($100,000) to be procured without the need to seek approval for Direct Contracting and getting multiple quotations.

The team reached out to various Faculties and Schools to gather feedback on this new proposal, and also met with OE Transformation Unit, NUS Human Resources and NUS Legal Affairs to discuss how to optimally effect the change in policy. Amazingly, the entire process was completed with the change implemented in less than two months – the revised policy, HR guidance notes and contract template were then announced in September 2019. 

While it may seem like a minor change to many, the revised policy allows departments to have fuller end-to-end control in the procurement process, thus reducing bottleneck and increasing efficiency instead. 

Cheong Weei reinforced the message that the partnership yielded positive change, “I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to be involved in OE, and in realising the goal to simplify and streamline a process that would have a broad impact in NUS.  It truly shows management’s commitment to OE.”

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Members of the UPP task force (from left): Winston Kan, Associate Director, NUS Central Procurement Office; Ong Chee Siong William, Deputy Director (Strategic Projects & Learning Systems), School of Continuing and Lifelong Education; Dr Chan Mun Kitt, Vice Dean, Executive & Professional Development, School of Continuing and Lifelong Education, and Senior Director, Lifelong Education, Office of the Senior Deputy President and Provost; and Gan Cheong Weei, Senior Manager, NUS Central Procurement Office.  Absent from photo: Mark Wee, Senior Associate Director, NUS HR

OE is a strategic initiative undertaken by the University to develop best practices for an efficient and world-class administration to better support NUS’ Vision and Mission. It aims to bring about improved work processes and policies as well as create opportunities for talent development and growth.

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