Politics

New General Assembly Webite Running, But Not Without Glitches

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January 13, 2014 — TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS ­­– A new legislative website launched just in time for the 2014 session of the Indiana General Assembly – but not without encountering problems with reliability and speed.

George Angelone, the executive director of the Legislative Services Agency, said the issues should be resolved by the end of next week.

“I would say that we are probably at the B, B+ level, not at the A level, and we are working to get it to the A level. To the extent that we’ve inconvenienced the public, we apologize, but we expect these problems to be resolved within the next week or so,” Angelone said.

The changes were requested by the leadership of the General Assembly who wanted to create a system that provided previously unavailable services.

“We undertook this new project in order to essentially bring the General Assembly into the 21st Century,” Angelone said.

In 2011, the LSA began working on pilot projects with electronic devices such as iPads, to see if they could effectively provide information to the legislature and the public.

But, two years into the project, Angelone said the agency realized it couldn’t provide the new services with their limited amount of staff. An outside provider with legislative systems experience was brought in to help initiate the program.

The system was designed to distribute information more quickly and on a broader scale than the old one could provide.

“Some of the services that (lawmakers) wanted were to make sure that the public received notices and information about the legislature on a real-time basis. Under the old system the best we could do was anywhere from three to 24 hours after an event would occur,” Angelone said. “For some parts of the legislative process that’s information, with that lag, that is way too late for the public to respond to what’s going on in the General Assembly.”

The new program was also designed as a transition to a completely electronic system that goes far beyond a new website, and should reduce the amount of paper documents used by legislators and their staff members.

“One of the most difficult process problems with the legislature is that you end up with piles and piles of paper and, as things change, it’s difficult to store and to find the most recent and the most relevant pieces of paper that are dealing with the legislative process. We printed, for example, 3 million pages last year,” Angelone said.

Messages back and forth between the House and the Senate used to be on paper and walked back and forth but now all messages can be sent and received electronically. Amendments and amendment packets are also being distributed electronically to members and updated whenever changes take place.

The amendments will be offered online to the public as soon as they are made available.

While more additions to the newly minted system are in the works, they aren’t expected to be introduced until during or after ne

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