The National Environment Agency (NEA) is enhancing the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) for the Environmental Services (ES) industry by raising the total grant cap and extending the PSG to the pest management sector. With effect from 1 March 2020, eligible companies can be supported up to 70 per cent of the qualifying cost, capped at S$350,000 per company, over the grant application period until 28 February 2021. In addition, the PSG will be extended to the pest management sector, as part of overall efforts to integrate the cleaning, waste and pest management sectors under the Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map (ES ITM).
NEA has conducted multiple briefing sessions for the industry, and to date, 473 applications have been approved and about S$7.2 million of the PSG has been committed. NEA has also received another 300 applications with a potential grant commitment of S$6.1 million, signaling a demand by companies in the ES industry to adopt ready-to-go solutions to increase operational efficiency and productivity, as well as to create new jobs and upskill the workforce. Of all the applications received so far, 56 per cent are from the cleaning sector, 8 per cent from the waste management sector, and 36 per cent by premises owners, tenants and Management Corporation Strata Titles (MCST).
The PSG for the ES industry was  launched in September 2018 to support the adoption of commercially available and proven environmental services technologies, including equipment and digital solutions (i.e. ready-to-go solutions), to increase operational efficiency and productivity. Previously, eligible companies were supported up to 50 per cent of the qualifying cost, capped at S$250,000.
To ensure that more companies in the ES industry have the opportunity to tap on the PSG, the funding period is being extended to 28 February 2021. (Refer to Annex A for more information on the enhancements of the PSG.) Since the launch of the PSG, the list of supportable equipment and solutions has expanded from 10 to 38, which now includes a plastic recycling system and a range of robotic and non-robotic sweepers and scrubbers for indoor and outdoor use. Companies can access the list at NEA’s website: www.nea.gov.sg/industry-transformation-map/es-psg.
Government to take the lead to adopt outcome-based contracting
Apart from providing grant support for companies, another key strategy to transform the ES industry involves driving change in procurement practices. Outcome-based contracting (OBC), which focuses on prescribing the desired performance outcomes instead of headcount, enables service providers to propose the use of technology and innovative solutions, as well as enhance processes that can improve productivity and meet desired outcomes.
With effect from 1 May 2020, in line with the Government’s commitment to take the lead to promote and adopt the use of OBC for cleaning services, all government service buyers will be required to adopt outcome-based contracting when procuring cleaning services (new tenders/quotations). (Refer to Annex B for more information on OBC.) In addition, government service buyers will place emphasis on quality, by assigning equal or greater weightage on the quality component compared to price component, in evaluation of tender proposals. They are also to adopt longer contractual periods of at least three years.
As service buyers play a key role in the transformation journey, NEA has been working with key stakeholders to push for wider adoption of outcome-based contracting to improve productivity in the cleaning sector. With the PSG in place, service buyers such as premises owners, tenants and MCSTs can tap on the grant to alleviate initial operational costs related to the purchase or lease of cleaning equipment and digital solutions.
Mr Dalson Chung, Director of Industry Development and Promotion at NEA, said, “The cleaning workforce makes up 76 per cent of the more than 80,000 workers in the ES industry, and the average age of the resident cleaning workforce is 60 years old. Outcome-based contracting is therefore necessary and relevant for the cleaning sector. NEA is also working with key stakeholders on a new Guide on Tender Evaluation, which contains recommendations on price-quality ratios, and complements existing efforts to encourage service buyers to adopt outcome-based contracting. Together with the enhancements of the PSG, we can further drive widespread adoption of technology across the ES industry, and continue to help companies to access ready technology to improve productivity.
Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) for Environmental Services
The Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) for the Environmental Services (ES) industry was launched in September 2018 to help drive widespread adoption of technology across the environmental services industry, and encourage small and medium-sized enterprises, multinational corporations, and premises owners (i.e. building / facility owners) to adopt commercially available and proven environmental services technologies, including equipment and digital solutions (i.e. ready-to-go solutions), to increase operational efficiency and productivity.
Since the integration of the pest management sector with the Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map (ES ITM), NEA has been working with the Singapore Pest Management Association (SPMA) to identify the types of equipment and solutions that pest management companies can tap on, to increase their operational efficiency and productivity.
Successful Grant Applications
To date, we have approved 473 applications and about S$7.2 million of the PSG has been committed. Some examples of successful applications are as follows:
|Company Name / Premises||Equipment/Solution|
|A & P Maintenance Services Pte Ltd||
|Chye Thiam Maintenance Pte Ltd||
|Evergreen Refuse Disposal & Cleaning Services Pte Ltd||
|Industrial & Commercial Facilities Management Pte. Ltd.||
|Jewel Changi Airport Trustee Pte. Ltd.||
|Springmount Services Pte. Ltd.||
Reviewed List of Supportable Equipment and Digital Solutions
NEA also continuously reviews the  list of supportable equipment and solutions to ensure that the ES industry continues to adopt relevant ES solutions to enhance their productivity and provide better services. Some examples of the additional supportable equipment are as follows:
|Sample pictures of additional supportable equipment|
|Outdoor Road Sweeper|
|Plastic Recycling System|
|Warehousing System – Forklift|
|Warehousing System – Pallet Transporter/Stacker|
|Warehousing System – Reach Truck|
Strengthening Procurement Practices for Cleaning Sector
The National Environment Agency (NEA) launched the Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map (ES ITM) in December 2017. One of the key strategies in transforming the ES industry involves driving change in procurement practices. As service buyers play a key role in the transformation journey, NEA has been working with key stakeholders to push for wider adoption of outcome-based contracting to improve productivity in the cleaning sector.
A  Guide on Specifications for Outcome-based Cleaning Contract was developed in 2017 to provide technical reference to government service buyers and the private sector on how to transit to outcome-based contracting. The guide enables service buyers and service providers to have a common understanding of the expectations and performance standards required.
To build competency and enhance knowledge of procurement personnel, NEA has partnered training providers to conduct training programmes on outcome-based contracting for cleaning services. These programmes cover areas such as drafting outcome-based specifications, and how to measure, monitor and assess performance outcomes. The take-up rate of these programmes has been positive – over 200 participants have attended eleven training courses /workshops/ seminars since June 2018.
The Government is taking the lead by mandating government service buyers to adopt OBC for procurement of cleaning services from 1 May 2020 onwards. With OBC, instead of prescribing the required headcount, the desired performance outcomes are specified to enable service providers to propose the use of technology and innovative solutions, as well as enhance processes that can improve productivity and meet desired outcomes.
In addition, government service buyers will place emphasis on quality, by assigning equal or greater weightage on the quality component compared to price component, in evaluation of tender proposals. They are also to adopt longer contractual periods of at least three years. This is based on feedback from the industry that longer contractual periods will enable service providers to justify returns of investment when adopting machinery/ technology in the cleaning operations.
New Guide on Tender Evaluation
NEA has similarly worked with key stakeholders (such as the Association of Property and Facility Managers and the International Facility Management Association) to develop a new Guide on Tender Evaluation. The Guide will contain a set of qualitative attributes that service buyers can take reference from in setting evaluation criteria.
The new Guide will also include recommendations on price-quality ratios and a list of attributes that service buyers can consider for procurement of cleaning services. It also provides templates on how to evaluate the tender/quotation proposals using a scoring matrix. In turn, service buyers will be able to derive better value in terms of more improved quality and delivery of cleaning services.
The new Guide will be made available on NEA’s website by end April 2020 and will be incorporated into the existing OBC training programmes. NEA will also conduct workshops to share best practices on OBC and tender evaluation with the industry.