about psc

Key Responsibilities

The Public Service Commission is a neutral and independent body which safeguards the values of integrity, impartiality, and meritocracy in the Singapore Public Service.

The PSC performs the following functions, without fear or favour:

Select and Develop PSC Scholarship Holders

The PSC Scholarships attract and nurture talents with leadership potential for the Public Service.

Appoint and Promote Top Talent

The PSC is the authority for the appointment of officers to the Administrative Service, as well as appointments and promotions to senior management ranks (Superscale D or Grade 7 and above). The PSC also considers candidates for appointment as Chief Executive Officers of Statutory Boards and assesses their suitability for promotion to Superscale D/Grade 7 and above. The PSC ensures impartiality in the process of selecting the best person for the job.

Maintain Discipline

The PSC is the authority for the dismissal and disciplinary control of civil servants. It has delegated to the Permanent Secretaries and Commissioner of Prisons its authority to discipline certain populations of civil servants for minor misconduct. The PSC ensures that all cases of irregularities, regardless of seniority, are treated with impartiality and fairness.

Act as Final Appellate Board

In 1995, several of the PSC’s functions were devolved to a hierarchy of personnel boards, leading to the PSC retaining a role as the final board of appeal so that it may continue to maintain a check on the Civil Service personnel system. As the final board of appeal, in cases where officers disagree with decisions taken by the Special Personnel Board, the PSC eradicates any bias and prejudice in the system and ensures that officers are treated fairly and consistently.


The PSC comprises a Chairman and at least five but no more than 14 other Members. The PSC Members take an Oath, before assuming office, where they swear to “provide counsel and advice” in any matters referred to the PSC, “freely without fear or favour, affection, or ill-will”. They are involved in, and help to discharge, all the PSC’s key functions.

Members hail from diverse backgrounds and are not allowed to hold any positions in the Public Service after their terms of office. They are appointed by the President, in consultation with the Prime Minister.

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The PSC has a long history spanning the colonial era through independence to the development of modern Singapore. While its Members have changed and its role has evolved, the PSC’s commitment to upholding the integrity and reputation of the Singapore Public Service remains unwavering. It continues to select the best person for scholarships or public service leadership positions, and to maintain the discipline of public officers, without fear or favour.

Our History

The Beginning

The British set up the Civil Service Commission, on which Colonial Commissions would later be based. The Public Services Salaries Commission of Malaya, under the chairmanship of Sir Harry Trusted, recommended the setting up of a Public Service Commission (PSC) in 1947. In 1949, the PSC was constituted by the Public Services Commission Ordinance to advise the British governor on matters of recruitment, appointment and promotion of civil servants.

Establishment of the PSC

The PSC was established on 1 January 1951 as an independent body to advise the British Governor on matters related to Civil Service recruitment, appointment and promotion. In 1957, the PSC’s role evolved to include dismissal and disciplinary control. In line with the constitutional reforms when Singapore attained self-governance in 1959, the PSC was reconstituted more as an executive body advising the Yang di-Pertuan Negara on the appointment, dismissal and discipline of public officers. The Queen’s Scholarship was abolished and replaced with the Singapore State Scholarship, awarded by the PSC.

Group Photograph Taken at Public Service Commission
Evolving Roles of the PSC

In 1961, to build up the pool of local talent for the Civil Service, the PSC took over the selection for all scholarships, fellowships and training sponsored by the Singapore Government. In 1963, Singapore merged with the Federation of Malaya, Sarawak and North Borneo to form Malaysia. From its earlier advisory role, the PSC was transformed into a fully executive body with powers to “appoint, confirm, emplace on the permanent or pensionable establishment, promote, transfer and exercise disciplinary control over public officers”. As Singapore’s political status changed, the Singapore State Scholarship was transformed first into the Yang di-Pertuan Negara Scholarship in 1964, and subsequently renamed the President’s Scholarship after 1965.

Group photograph of President Yusof Ishak (centre), Minister for Education Ong Pang Boon (to President's right), officials and President's Scholarship recipients taken at Istana during presentation ceremony
Increase in Size of the Commission and Growing the Public Service Talent Pool

A Constitutional amendment in 1970 expanded the membership of the PSC to provide for a minimum of four and a maximum of seven members, excluding the Chairman. Due to a labour shortage in the Civil Service, more females were employed for various technical and other jobs traditionally confined to male candidates. The PSC decided to select, promote and appoint officers based on merit and beyond the vacancies available where there were deserving candidates. The PSC also recruited foreign talent for areas with a shortage of qualified local candidates. It also began to administer the Singapore Armed Forces Overseas Scholarship, as well as the ASEAN and Hong Kong Scholarships.

Group Photograph of Members of the Public Service Commission with Chairman Dr Phay Seng Whatt (fourth from left)
Delegation of Duties

In 1983, the PSC handed over personnel management of the Civil Service to the newly-formed Public Service Division, and delegated to the Permanent Secretaries its authority to appoint officers to junior grades. It then focused on its core Constitutional role: ensuring impartiality of appointments, promotions and disciplinary action.

The Straits Times on 1 January 1983 announcing the formation of the Public Service Division
Devolution of the PSC, ESC and PCDSC Personnel Functions to Personnel Boards and Amalgamation into a Single Commission - the PSC

On 1 July 1990, two sub-commissions of the PSC, the Education Service Commission (ESC) and the Police and Civil Defence Services Commission (PCDSC), were established to further improve the responsiveness and effectiveness of the Civil Service personnel management. A further Constitutional amendment in 1994 devolved functions from the PSC to personnel boards in the Ministries. From 1 January 1995, the PSC served as an appellate board to consider appeals against personnel board decisions other than those under the Education and Police and Civil Defence Services. The PSC retained the power to consider appeals from these personnel boards. On 1 April 1998, the ESC and PCDSC were amalgamated with the PSC into a single Commission. Dr Andrew Chew was appointed Chairman – the first ex-civil servant to hold the position.

President Ong Teng Cheong presenting Meritorious Service Medal to Chairman of Public Service Commission Dr Andrew Chew Guan Khuan at investiture of National Day awards
Introduction of New Scholarship Schemes and Delegation of Discipline Authority

The PSC sharpened its focus on top-tier scholarships. It delegated administration of other tied scholarships to Ministries, while retaining overall authority to uphold standards. In 2002, the Management Associates Programme (MAP) was established to groom outstanding young officers for leadership positions. The PSC delegated to the Permanent Secretaries and Commissioner of Prisons authority to discipline certain populations of civil servants for minor misconduct. To meet the diverse needs of the Civil Service, the PSC Mid-Term Scholarship, PSC Master’s Scholarship and PSC China Scholarship were introduced between 2005 and 2009.

Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman Dr Andrew Chew speaking during PSC’s 50th Anniversary book launch cum art exhibition held at City Hall Chambers
Present Day
Public Service Leadership Programme & Career Pathways

The PSC celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2011. Scholarships have continued to evolve alongside the Civil Service. In 2013, the MAP was superseded by the Public Service Leadership Programme (PSLP), which aims to widen and deepen the leadership corps. From 2015, the various PSC scholarships, with the exception of the President’s Scholarship, were combined into a single PSC Scholarship. The PSC Scholarship has three career pathways: Public Administration, Professional Service and Uniformed Service. The PSC Scholarship (Engineering) and the PSC Scholarship (Public Finance) were inaugurated under the Professional Service pathway in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Photograph of Public Service Commission (PSC) Scholarship Holders taken during Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) Camp.
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President's Scholarship

The President’s Scholarship is widely regarded as Singapore’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarship. It is awarded to outstanding individuals of sound character who have distinguished themselves beyond excellence in academic and co-curricular activities, exemplify the ethos of the Public Service, and are dedicated to improving the lives of Singaporeans. The President's Scholarship is awarded in addition to another public sector scholarship.

History of the President's Scholarship

The Beginning

The Queen’s Scholarship was initiated by Sir Cecil Clementi Smith, Governor of the Straits Settlements, and awarded to the best student of the year by a special selection board comprising six members under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice. The scholarship was “awarded annually to enable those who wish to do so to take an approved course of study at an overseas university or institution”. Queen’s Scholarship holders include Mr E.W. Barker (former Minister for Law) and Madam Kwa Geok Choo (Mrs Lee Kuan Yew).

The Singapore State Scholarship

The Queen’s Scholarship was abolished and replaced by the Singapore State Scholarship, which was only tenable at the University of Malaya. Recipients were selected based on merit from students admitted to the university. Singapore State Scholarship holders include Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam (Singapore’s 7th President) and Dr Yeo Ning Hong (former Cabinet Minister).

Revision of Regulations to the State Scholarship and The Yang di-Pertuan Negara Scholarship

Regulations to the State Scholarship were revised so that the scholarship was “awarded to the cream of each school-leaving year, on the basis of the Higher School Certificate results or where appropriate school certificate results, without exclusion on grounds of what or where these students prefer to study”. Students in all language streams of education in Singapore were also eligible for the scholarship. Underpinning this review was the desire to uphold the basic intention of the scholarship, which was that it was to be the most prestigious award available conferred to the very best students on the basis of pure merit. In August 1964, the Yang di-Pertuan Negara Scholarship was inaugurated to replace the State Scholarship. Yang di-Pertuan Negara Scholarship holders include Mr Lim Siong Guan (former head of Civil Service and Group President of GIC).

The President’s Scholarship

The Yang di-Pertuan Negara Scholarship was renamed the President’s Scholarship following Singapore’s independence. The first President’s Scholarship holders were Mr Lee Yock Suan (former Minister for the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs), Mr Barry Desker (Distinguished Fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies) and Mr Koh Cher Siang (former Chairman of the Housing and Development Board).

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