Parliaments seem to use very little IT technology
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The findings of the World e-Parliament Report 2008 achieved by UNDESA and
the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the use of information and communication
technologies within 105 parliament assemblies from all over the world were
presented on 25 November 2008, at the second high-level meeting of the Board
of the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament.
The Report is the first one of this kind and was meant to assess the level
to which information and communication technologies are used by parliaments
within their activities. It also used the information exchanged during the
World e-Parliament Conference 2007 and the publicly available information
related to the topic.
The purpose of the report was to help “legislatures evaluate the potential
benefits of ICT in supporting parliament’s basic values of transparency,
accessibility, accountability and effectiveness, and, at the same time, its
representative, legislative and oversight functions. Its publication is
intended to establish a shared knowledge base among the parliaments of the
world and, most importantly, promote international dialogue on these
matters.” The issues tackled by the report were: the relationship between
parliaments, ICT and the information society; innovation and leadership;
management, planning and resources; infrastructures and services;
documenting the legislative process; parliamentary websites; building a
knowledge base for parliament; enhancement of the dialogue between
parliaments and citizens and cooperation and coordination.
According to the report, only 10% of the parliaments from EU, Africa, Latin
America, Australia and Canada use ICT to make their activities known to
their citizens. “For most parliaments, our survey has documented that there
is a significant gap between what is possible with ICT and what has been
accomplished,” said Jeffrey Griffith, one of the authors.
The study has shown that only 43% of the parliaments stated having document
management systems and most of them find it difficult to keep their websites
up to date and accessible to the wide public. Even when the sites displayed
the texts of bills they lacked links to the relevant information.
In most cases, but not in all, the level of the ICT use by a parliament
appears to be related to the level of the national income.
In Mr. Griffith’s opinion, parliaments should use a similar model to Web 2.0
techniques used by the US presidential elections but also considered that in
order to do that, strong political leadership, the active engagement of MPs
and well-trained technical staff were necessary. “Attaining a high level of
performance in the application of ICT is not only dependent on resources; it
also requires strong political leadership, active engagement of members, a
skilled secretariat, well-trained technical staff, and a sustained
commitment to the strategic implementation of information and communication
technologies in the legislative setting” says the World e-Parliament Report
During the EP conference, Mechthild Rothe, vice-president of the European
Parliament said that e-parliament strategies also had to guarantee a high
level of IT security concerning the privacy of the citizens’ personal data.
She also made a presentation of the ICT tools used by the European
Parliament including RRS feeds, podcasts, online streams of plenary sessions
in 23 languages. This presentation came in contrast with the statements of
the representatives of the Egyptian Parliament and the Pan-African
Parliament who spoke of a “great digital divide” between the developed world
and African countries.
“There are technical and know-how obstacles in introducing ICT in the
parliaments of the developing world, marred by ignorance, poverty and wars,”
said Ahmed Fathy Sorour, speaker of the Egyptian Parliament who was backed
by Gertrude Mongella, President of the Pan-African Parliament. In her turn,
she talked about the lack of dialogue and parliamentary representation which
was one of the causes of conflicts such as the one presently going on in
The survey also shows there is willingness from parliaments to improve their
use of ICT technology and their awareness of the importance of the issue.
The World e-Parliament Report 2008 also points out the “opportunities for
parliaments to benefit from cooperating at the regional and global levels in
the e-parliament domain. Existing and emerging parliamentary networks can
sustain some of these efforts, but a worldwide dialogue is becoming
increasingly essential. By offering coordinated support and training for
those parliaments with fewer resources, increasing the opportunities for
sharing expertise and software at a global level and providing greater
access to parliamentary information resources, parliaments will be better
positioned to fulfil citizens’ legitimate expectations, achieve common goals
and advance the principles of the World Summit on the Information Society.”
Parliaments are slow in going online, study shows (25.11.2008)
World e-Parliament Report 2008 – Executive summary