Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hansard 2.0: Designing e-Democracy into the new Australian Parliament Hansard

The Australian Department of Parliamentary Services has issued a "Request for Tender for Provision of a replacement Hansard Production System". Hansard is traditionally the published record of what is said in parliament and parliamentary committees. However, Hansard is not a verbatim transcript of what is said. Hansard is already on the web, but as a simple conversion of the previous paper system. There is the opportunity with "Hansard 2.0" to produce a system which makes use of the Web's features to provide a better service for e-Democracy.

The Department of Parliamentary Services have provided a very detailed and clearly written 83 page request for tender document. The document contains a very useful five page glossary, and a ten page introduction to the work of the Department of Parliamentary Services, its work practices and systems, with work flows and metadata. The statement of requirement is twelve pages long.
3.1 About the Department of Parliamentary Services 6
3.2 Hansard Background Information for this RFT 8
3.3 Hansard Production System – Application Dependencies 11 ...

Statement of Requirement 37
5.12 Overview 37
5.13 Job Creation and Management 37
5.14 Resource Management 38
5.15 Text Creation, Editing and Formatting 40
5.16 Document Management 42
5.17 Publishing 43
5.18 Reporting 44
5.19 Administration and Security 44
5.20 Architecture and Technology 45
5.21 Future Proofing 46
5.22 Project Plan and other Documentation 47
5.23 Administrative and Support Capabilities 48 ...

From: Table of Contents,
Hansard RFT Document, ATM ID DPS08024, Agency Department of Parliamentary Services, 29-Sep-2008
While very clearly set out, the scope of the tender is very limited:
The DPS seeks a solution that better meets the business needs of Hansard by significantly reducing the time taken to produce and publish transcripts, thereby improving Hansard service delivery standards along with maintaining service quality and enabling editors to focus on the more value-added component of their editing work.
What is being looked for is a way to reduce the time needed to produce transcripts. However, this will not necessarily improve the working of Parliament nor enhance democracy. Hansard is not a transcript of what is said in parliament and to design a system as if this is what it was will not enhance the operation of Parliament. A better approach would be to create a system which provides a transcript as one output and then allows this to be enhanced with other information, much as a web based document, such as a Wiki is. The documents used by Parliament could be linked to the transcript, the video and audio of what was said could be linked. The corrections to indicate what the MPs meant to say could be incorporated in the record, without obscuring what they actually said.
Category 43000000 - Information Technology Broadcasting and Telecommunications
Close Date & Time 18-Nov-2008 2:00 pm (ACT Local time) ...

Location ACT
ATM Type Request for Tender

The Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) is seeking a solution to replace its current Hansard Production System (HPS).

The HPS is a document production and management system that interfaces with a number of disparate systems to make possible the publishing of Hansard. It currently incorporates:

1. job creation
2. rostering of editor resources
3. allocation of committee jobs both in Parliament House and interstate
4. production and workflow monitoring of chamber and committee transcripts
5. transmitting of draft transcripts to networked printers, to e-mail accounts and to a web services portal
6. preparation and publishing of documents via the internet and in hard copy
7. document management
8. security access control
9. information management components providing performance data relating to quantity, accuracy and timeliness of work which are the basis for annual reports and management information reporting needs

Conditions for Participation As defined in the Request for Tender documentation
Timeframe for Delivery It is expected that a Contract will be in place by March 2009 ...

From: Request for Tender for Provision of a replacement Hansard Production System, ATM ID DPS08024, Agency Department of Parliamentary Services, 29-Sep-2008

Glossary of Terms
CATComputer Assisted Transcription using Stenograph shorthand machines.
CPALCentralised Parliamentarians’ Address List.
ChamberSenate, House of Representatives, or House of Representatives Main Committee.
COBWEBCommittee Online Booking Website which enables committee staff to book Hansard and Broadcasting services for committee hearings.
ContractThe Contract which the DPS intends to enter into with any Successful Tenderer, substantially in the form of the draft document at Attachment A of this RFT.
DARTDigital Audio Recording for Transcription (a For the Record (FTR) digital recording solution to record audio from chambers and committees for playback and transcribing by Hansard editors or external providers).
Scheduled to replace current Digital Audio System in early 2009, but reference is generically used to mean current Digital Audio System also.
  1. Job transcript.
  2. Turn files, which are subsequently consolidated into a transcript.
  3. Incorporated material.
EditTranscribe and check own turn (editor), following which a turn may be subedited.
External ProvidersOutsourced transcription services, i.e. organisations that have been engaged under contract to record and/or transcribe committee proceedings.
FTR (For the Record)Company contracted to provide replacement digital audio system.
GreenDraft speech or question sent to a member of the House of Representatives for review.
GSTGoods and Services Tax levied on the supply of goods and services under the A New Tax System (Goods and Services) Tax Act 1999 (Cth).
HansardTraditional name for the transcripts of what is said in parliamentary chambers and committees proceedings.
HouseHouse of Representatives chamber.
HPSHansard Production System.
In-camera HearingA committee hearing not open to the public and for which the transcript is not made publicly available.
ISRInformation Storage and Retrieval system which generates name ID values for all senators and members.
KPIsKey Performance Indicators.
LoggingCreating a log of proceedings, speakers, interjections, etc. for chamber or committee hearings.
Logical ComponentA portion of text that can be grouped into a single entity, for example a speech or a debate. There may be several turns in a logical component, or several logical components in a turn.
Module systemPrinciples by which Hansard allocates staff/teams to roster segments to cover span of sitting hours.
MonitoringCreating a ‘voiceover’ for committee audio recordings to identify speakers.
Nil TurnTurn that contains no text, coding or other information required for publishing.
Official Hansard
  1. Chamber “book” produced for each week, containing prefatory pages, chamber proceedings and answers to Questions on Notice or Questions in Writing. Previously known as the Weekly Hansard.
  2. Final committee transcript.
OH&SOccupational Health and Safety.
ParlInfoDPS system that provides a common service to support the authoring, collection, management and presentation of web-based parliamentary information and the retrieval of that information.
PCNParliamentary Computing Network.
PinkDraft speech or question sent to a senator for review.
Private BriefingCommittee meeting not open to the public and for which the transcript is not made publicly available.
Proof Hansard
  1. Chambers “book” produced each day, containing prefatory pages, chamber proceedings and answers to Questions on Notice or Questions in Writing. Previously known as the Daily Hansard.
  2. First committee transcript draft.
Public HearingCommittee hearing open to the public and for which the transcript is made publicly available.
Question TimeDaily period in Senate and House during which members ask ministers questions without notice concerning areas within their responsibility.
Properly known as Questions without Notice. Compared with Questions on Notice (Senate) and Questions in Writing (House), which are provided by chamber departments and incorporated, with answers, at the end of each day’s Hansard chamber report.
Question Time Bulk SendSending to all political party leaders and the Presiding Officers of a draft Hansard report of the day’s question time.
Request for Tender (RFT) This document and includes all Stages, Attachments and Schedules.
Roster ComponentSection of a roster to which a resource or resources may be allocated e.g. between noon and 1:00pm or 7:30pm and 11:00pm. Generally is dependent on chamber/committee sitting times and requirement to roster OH&S breaks.
Senators’ and Members’ Services Portal (SMSP)Intranet portal containing a number of ‘windows’ or content blocks that display a variety of information to senators, members and their staff. Hansard Production System currently provides draft Senate and House speeches (Pinks and Greens) to a content block in SMSP.
ServicesServices required by the DPS more particularly described in the Statement of Requirement.
SidenamesSpeaker names set up in chamber and committee transcripts, usually containing metadata, or coding that assists the sending of speeches and Parlinfo searching and indexing.
SMESmall to Medium Enterprises.
SOAService Orientated Architecture.
SOAPSingle Object Access Protocol.
SpeechA speech made, a question asked, or an answer given by a senator or member in a chamber.
SORStatement of Requirement.
Successful TendererThe Tenderer selected to enter into a Contract.
TendererA person who submits a Tender in response to this RFT and includes a potential Tenderer.
TranscriptA Hansard transcript for a chamber or committee, made up of turns created by editors.
  1. Period of proceedings an editor transcribes– usually 7 ½ minutes for each of the chambers and 5 minutes for committees.
  2. Individual Microsoft Word files that an editor can create and edit. Turns need not be time referenced e.g. a whole job could be one turn.
VRVoice Recognition – most editors use Dragon Naturally Speaking v9.0 to enter text. VR does not mean direct translation of source speech direct to text.

From: Glossary of Terms, Hansard RFT Document, ATM ID DPS08024, Agency Department of Parliamentary Services, 29-Sep-2008

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