Parliaments and ICT – going on from here

I’ve had an opportunity to – properly – go through the World e-Parliament Report, produced by the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament.

As I knew it would be, it is an excellent piece of work. I think that the particular value lies in the fact that it looks at a range of possible applications of ICT and covers as many Parliaments as possible.

For me, the recommendations were also an important inclusion. Everyone knows the state of play and where the problems lie, but very few know how to make decisive steps toward addressing these challenges. The Report’s recommendations are clear and achievable and it will be interesting to watch Parliaments try to enact them.

And this tracking, I think, is crucial. Which Parliaments take up the challenge? Which make the best efforts with the limited resources at their disposal? Which are innovative? Which are conservative and static? Which are lazy and isolationist? I think it would be worth taking this tracking on another level and actually setting up some awards to be given out at the Centre’s annual Conference.

I would also like to suggest:

1. A partnership or mentoring scheme whereby a high-achieving parliament is paired with a low-achieving parliament. The relationship would be mutually beneficial, with the low-achiever getting advice and being able to do some leapfrogging, and the high-achiever having the opportunity to stand back, look at itself and have a better idea of where it should go from that point onward.

2. From here – working toward the next report – I would like to see a specific set of recommendations on using ICT to facilitate citizen and stakeholder engagement. Engagement is absolutely crucial – as the Report acknowledges – and is all the more desirable and feasible in our current low-efficacy and high-technology climates. But the Report does not provide specific recommendations on improving engagement, and I feel this lets Parliaments and politicians off too lightly.

3. Lastly, another set of recommendations and level of support that I think are lacking are those on technical specifics. The Report deals with technology broadly, which is understandable because you could fill out another report of the same length with stuff on XML standards, secure data storage and basic ICT provision for committees. But based on my experience of working the Global Centre’s stakeholders, it is this sort of specific direction that many of them would thank the Centre for providing.

    What do you think?

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