Bungeni provides software tools that expedite the legislative authoring and amendment processes, the production processes and the dissemination and access of core parliamentary documentation, covering the entire document life-cycle of Parliamentary documents.
Bungeni provides tools for the drafting, revision, amendment and publishing phases of the document life-cycle and also tools to allow citizens to provide feedback, comments on issues, submit petitions and propose amendment to legislation in discussion. Users within Parliament, including MPs, parliamentary and other support staff, may use Bungeni as a support tool for the entire range of Parliamentary works. Citizens, civil society organisations, institutions and private companies may use the system to access Parliamentary works and also to present contributions, opinions or feedback on specific issues of their concern.
Bungeni provides the following features:
- Bill Process: drafting and bill amendment process; engrossing of amendments.
- Motions Questions and Tabled Documents: submission, revision and scheduling of Motions, Questions and Tabled Documents; incorporation of Motions, Questions and Tabled Documents into ''parliamentary agenda'' and ''debates reports''.
- Parliamentary Business: production of the weekly and daily agenda of Parliamentary sittings and Committee meetings, i.e. "Weekly Schedule" and "Order of the Day" etc.
- Debate Records: production of verbatim Debate Records (Hansard) of Parliament's sittings as well as Committee proceedings.
- Votes and Proceedings: production of summary description of all the main issues debated and decisions taken during a specific sitting of Parliament or a Committee1
- Virtual Workspace: provide virtual Workspace for MPs, political groups, committees and staff where they can share information, collaborate and debate.
- Citizens' interactivity and participation: provide opportunity to annotate documents, submit proposals, take part in polls and petitions, etc.
- Publishing of parliamentary documents: parliamentary and legislative documents are made available in different formats and for different media.
From a technical perspective – Bungeni has been designed to be flexible, secure and reliable – some of the technical highlights are listed below :
- Web Browser based – This provides a familiar environment to the user and also simplifies application delivery to the desktop. For certain processor and interaction intensive activities (like marking up of documents) a cross-platform desktop client is provided.
- Document/Work flow centric design – The processes within Bungeni have been designed on the principle of a Document which goes through changes at various stages by different persons – closely mimicking the actual processes within Parliaments.
- Flexible component architecture model - This allows scalability and flexibility to support diverse deployment configurations for a parliament's needs.
- Automatic versioning – The system supports automatic versioning – all content generated within the system is automatically versioned as the content changes.
- Audit Log – For security purposes all change events are audited in a read-only audit log.
In the following sections you can find a short description of the different functional (end-user) components of the Bungeni.
The drafting, enacting, amending and repealing of legislation is the core activity of a parliament. The processes for managing bills and other statutory instruments are typically the most complex in any Parliament. Many bills modify existing statute, while some are written from scratch. This module supports the submission of proposed amendments and the engrossing of the approved ones into a new version of the Bill, the mark-up of the Bill according to AKOMA NTOSO standards and other valuable functionality aimed at reducing the time, cost and effort required to support the Bill life-cycle while allowing both MPs and citizens to follow the bill through all its stages.
- Bill Drafting (desktop: OpenOffice Editor):
- provides the drafter a familiar word-processing interface;
- provides a ''style format'' interface to mark-up the document that hides from the drafter the technicalities of the XML schema;
- allows the drafter to manually format portions of a Bill if necessary; e.g. to quote an international treaty that may not match the data structures of the local jurisdiction or to include tabular data and graphics;
- generates and automatically updates section numbering of bills;
- supports automatically updating section numbering, cross-references.
- Amendment management
- Member Annotation of Bills - Using just a web browser Members of Parliament can privately annotate portions of a bill and subsequently share these annotations with other members of parliament. Sharing can be done within a 'political group' or with specific members of parliament.
- Amendment Submission - Using a word processor a Member of Parliament makes direct amendments on the Bill document in 'track changes' mode – and then submit it to the clerk. The clerk is provided with an application that scans all the submitted documents and presents the changes submitted by the MPs in one interface to allow the clerk to examine all the proposed changes on one screen.
- Amendment Lists – The clerk, using the amendment management user interface can generate standard reports called 'Amendment Lists'. These reports can be generated per Member of Parliament – and also a global list of amendments in the order chosen by the Clerk.
- Engrossing of Amendments – The bill amendments typically go through discussion and approval stages in parliament – the Clerk can reflect this by changing the status of the amendments appropriately in the system and then 'engrossing' (importing) the approved/admissible amendments into the original bill using traditional conventions (additions marked with underlines, deletions with strike-through) to improve readability.
Questions, Motions and Tabled Documents
Questions, Motions and Tabled Documents are the main modalities through which MPs exercise their legislative activities as well as oversight of the Executive. Motions and Questions are very important also from the point of view of citizens because they can provide a good indication of the concrete actions taken by the MPs to carry out their mandate.
The module for Questions, Motions and Tabled Documents:
- provides a web-based interface for submitting Questions, Motions and Tabled Documents. The web form for entering the content provides a rich text editor capable of allowing formatting like indentation, underline/bold typeface, numbering and bullets;
- supports a revision work flow. The system keeps each new version of the different documents as they go through the revision process prior to being accepted for tabling in the house. Bungeni uses document versioning feature to keep track of the editing that a motion/question may go through during the approval workflow;
- provides an interface to record data such as the results of votes on a Motion or if a Question has been tabled, debated, etc.;
- allows the use of the Motions and Questions information to create the "Parliamentary Business” (Calendar), "Votes and Proceedings" and ''Debate Report'';
- allows searching for Motions and Questions based on MPs, by topics and also supports linking or cross-referencing of the Motions and Questions with the related Debate Records so that it is possible to retrieve the debate's portions relative to a specific questions;
Debate Record (Hansard)
The Debate Record is a verbatim transcript of everything said in the Parliamentary chambers. Bungeni provides a word processor interface mapped to the specific formatting and presentation requirements of each parliament, to assist in the transcription process and mark-up of Debates. ''Marking up'' allows easy conversion of the debate into an AKOMA NTOSO XML document. More specifically the module :
- supports the concept of ‘Turns' and the merging, review and approval processes to create the consolidated debate record;
- provides web-access to the ''draft Debate Record'' to allow, within a limited period of time, MPs that may want to point out mistakes or request corrections to ''annotate'' the verbatim with his/her notes and suggestions (see ''annotation'' in Bill);
- supports rendering of the Debate Record documents to various outputs e.g. web, print, etc. is provided and such rendering matches the format of historically published volumes.
Parliamentary Business Calendar
Parliamentary Business Calendar allows users to:
- setup sittings for plenary and committees, etc.
- mark approved items which may be eligible for scheduling in the near future;
- single click scheduling of parliamentary items for a sitting;
- consolidate the agenda items into a pre-defined template to produce e.g. Order Paper, Schedule of Questions, Weekly Parliamentary calendar, etc.
- set up alerts for items that are due for tabling/debate in the House/Committees (e.g. Questions, Motions, etc.)
The checks in the system do not allow adding of any business of Parliament to the calendar that has not been recorded into the ''Registry'' or ''Calendar''. The system also checks for overlapping sitting, and it can capture public and national holidays to prevent scheduling of sittings on those days,
Votes and Proceedings
The Votes and Proceedings is the authoritative record of the proceedings of Parliament. It is not a verbatim record of everything spoken (see Debate Records for that), but is a summary of all the discussions and decisions taken, or minutes. The Votes and Proceedings are used as a source of reference also by members of Parliament. The system offers the following features:
- uses as template the ''agenda'' of a sitting that when viewed to create the Votes and Proceedings has below each item of the agenda a button ''minutes''. When you click that a windows pop up to a rich-text interface where the minutes can be typed.
- avoids re-entering data that have already been entered elsewhere in the system. For example, text of Questions/Motions, is already part of the document.
Virtual Workspaces are workspaces within the portal where groups of users, e.g. members of a committee, can share documents and information and work together on common issues. In Bungeni, parliamentary committees and parliamentary groups will be represented as virtual workspaces. Other non-procedural workspaces for common interests and issues are also possible.
In addition each MP will have their own private workspace, thus affording them a secure work area to prepare documents or store content private to them.
Citizens' interactivity and participation
One of the aims of the Bungeni portal, besides improving access to parliamentary works, is to provide opportunities for Citizens' participation in the legislative and oversight process . Bungeni portal will provide the following functionality that may be used in whatever section/part of the site each parliament may choose:
- Annotation: parliaments will have the possibility to allow registered users to annotate draft documents (e.g. bill, committee's report, etc.). This functionality will allow parliaments to collect the advise and opinions of citizens in a very detailed and articulated fashion.
- Blog-like-discussion: Committees and/or MPs can set up a blog where they can present issues of interest and allow citizens to comment and present their contribution on the web. The debate records of the MP could also be published as dated blog entries.
- Feedback: Citizens can easily send feedback from any section/page of the website by simply clicking the ''feedback'' icon and filling in a form with their notes.
- Poll and Surveys: Online polls will solicit the opinion of the citizens or request them to fill in a survey if the information requested is more complex than a simple ''yes – no'' pool.