Parliamentary dog chews on committees
Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-01-21
Either the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts wants nothing to do with the new Senate Submissions application (which I initially reviewed here) because the committee knows it is an absolute dog and wants nothing to do with it, or that dog is ignorant of the existence of most committees, even the ones that have current inquiries!
I was trying to upload my submission to the soon-to-close ‘Saving the Goulburn and Murray Rivers’ bill. The application first lets you select the relevant committee, and then you are supposed to select the relevant inquiry.
But the committee I wanted wasn’t on the list: the application only offered a short list of three! Before you ask, yes, I did try scrolling up and down the drop-down, and no, you cannot proceed directly to an inquiry by name or topic.
So, let’s imagine a risk:
- A person wants to make a submission and knows the committee.
- That person goes to the Senate Submission System.
- Because the committee isn’t listed, and other committees don’t list the inquiry the person wants, that person assumes that submissions have closed, and does not make the submission.
- This implies that the new system could be seen as discouraging or preventing submissions, and that committees do not have access to the information they should have.
Regular readers will have seen the gradual discovery of more and more flaws with Parliamentary webservers facing the public, and this is just another one. You can bet it will be included in the second letter to APH webmasters which will be specific to the Senate Submissions System, on top of the one currently under development making more generic complaints (and on which I’m after eyeballs and sanity checking before I send it).
So, we have one or two (non-exclusive) options, both of which are damning, given the number of discovered flaws:
- The committee on Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts knows about the flaws, and considers them so bad that the system should not be used for the work of that committee; and/or
- The committee doesn’t know of the flaws, but the system has been put into production before all appropriate static data is loaded.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, this is probably symtomatic, and I’m hoping that APH information systems get the resources (both money and expertise) from other agencies (most likely Tanner’s AGIMO) to make up for the patent lack of IT governance endemic to the Howard years.
- "The Parliamentary Dog Ate My Homework" (2009-01-13) goes through the implications of the flaws already found. Refer also to preceding posts referenced in that one.
- "Draft Note to Parliament House Webmaster" (2009-01-19) which I’m hoping will get more comments to improve the letter before I send it.
- "Gershon Report to be implemented in full" (2008-11-28) which oulines Tanner’s push to fix our miserable government IT governance.
- The Senate Submissions System:
https://senate.aph.gov.au/submissions/(if you don’t have a current session, you’ll need to log in or register as a user).