Friday, August 25, 2006

The efficient civil service

The Singapore government has always harped about productivity and efficiency. Of course, at the same time, must also be courteous. The civial service departement especially, is always coming up with new ways to improve and be more productive. On Wednesday, I came into contact with the efficiency of a civil service department which.

I had to renew a license for hubby. This department was located in the super, grand IRAS building - Revenue House.

Finding the place was easy... the rest required a little more work.

The departement was on the 9th floor. There was no reception counter and the door was controlled by security pass. You have to press the bell and then yell into the microphone for the whole office department to hear the purpose of your visit.

As I wasn't too sure if it's the right department, I thought I'd make a call to confirm.

You know, all these recorded phones information is supposed to help you right? But seriously? Most of the time, you just want to stranggle the phone.

"To hear this in English, press 1. To hear this in Chinese, press 2."

And then it's repeated in Chinese.

"Press 1 for xxx, Press 2 for xxx, Press 3 for xxx".

And then you duly press 2

"Press 1 for xxx, Press 2 for xxx, Press 3 for xxx".

You didn't hear anything that seemed to be the right department. So you press a number that you think might be the right one.

"Press 1 for xxx, Press 2 for xxx, or Press 0 to speak to our officer."

You still don't hear anything that seems to be right, so you press 0 to speak to a human being.

"All our officers are engaged at the moment. Your call is important to us. Please hold and we'll get back to you shortly."

This is followed by some Richard Clayderman or Kenny G music over the phone. I'm assuming the music is supposed to calm you down.

After about 1 minute, you hear the "your call is important" message again and so you listen to the very soothing music on for another minute. And then this message comes on.

"I'm sorry all our officers are engaged at the moment and cannot attend to you. Please press 1 to leave a message or you may continue to hold."

You didn't want to wait anymore, so you press '9' to leave a message and is greeted by this:
"I'm sorry the message box is full. Pleaae call again later."


Ok, ok, the above was not exactly what I went through when I called but it was close enough. You can imagine my frustration then.

Anyway, I finally managed to get into the office, only to find out that the cashier may be closed.

Wait, I didn't tell you about the timing? You see, you can only go down from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 4.30pm. They must all think we don't need to work and our sole purpose in life is to go down and renew a silly license. I mean, you can't even opt to go down during lunch time!


The officer was kind enough to check to see if the cashier is still opened, so we trooped down to the 7th floor.

Why? Because the cashier is on the 7th floor.

Luckily it still was. I managed to pay and collected my receipt.

And then I had to go back upstairs to the 9th floor again... to collect the license.

I guess there must be some logic behind this arrangement and I'm sure it's probably the best solution, after much deliberation,.

But I'm afraid the reason has escaped me, the normal citizen.

Maybe that's why I've never applied for a job in the government sector. I'll never make a good civil servant.


mrs a said...

Unfortunately, it sounds like all government agencies have the same problems - inefficient! No different here either.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tiffany,

Understand how you felt when you make the call. Happened to me too when I need to call some banks.

JC the silent visitor

tiffany said...

yeah.. guess we all have the similar experiences at one time or other.... Sigh....