There are 13 permanent select committees, as well as ad-hoc committees that are created and disbanded when the need arises. As well as Members of Parliament, select committee staff deal with public submissions, witnesses and advisors.
The Office of the Clerk’s old eCommittee portal was out of date, unsupported and constrained by specialised, on-premise hardware that prevented mobility and open collaboration. It was also difficult for select committee staff to use. Agenda updates were onerous and needed to be duplicated and provided in a variety of file formats for Members, often under time pressured situations. Members needed to use paper and/or network folders when their own supporting information was required. Despite its longevity, most of the Members resisted using the difficult eCommittee portal, often preferring to use paper.
The select committee system was born during the discovery phase of a larger enterprise application in January 2014. The project ran through to December that same year and paved the way for the ongoing larger scale solution for transforming desk and paper-bound processes and applications into a mobile-centric working environment.
The eCommittee portal replacement involved coupling SharePoint 2013 with a single page application (SPA), which means Members can now receive information immediately in a variety of responsive formats and on any device. All of the constraints that plagued the old application have been removed. Meeting agendas have become interactive running sheets that contain links to relevant documents stored within SharePoint. Agenda forms can easily be changed by staff and, once published, can be accessed in real-time. Members can now access information from anywhere at any time, annotate and securely save documents in their own repository, and store and access select committee documents.
The result is a working environment that is far more agile, faster, responsive and collaborative. The new select committee system has received high praise and buy-in from both staff and Members, has realised cost savings through the decommissioning of specialised hardware and licensing, and provides security from macro down to micro levels. Success was enhanced by being able to demonstrate the functionality of the new system as it was being built, enabling the staff to provide input and monitor and manage scope at every step. This led to informed decisions for complex solutions and a strong relationship based on integrity and transparency at all levels. This meant we could deliver a complex, very high profile application within a very short time, without compromising functionality.
“The new system has really streamlined my team’s processes, and it is efficient and effective. What was before a very complex system, has become an intuitive one.”
Rafael Gonzalez-Montero, Deputy Clerk - House of Representatives
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