Usability and Functionality Improvements of the ‘Parliamentary Transparency’ Section of the Hellenic Parliament Website (GR0026)
Enhancement and improvement of the functionality offered by the ‘Parliamentary Transparency’ section of the Hellenic Parliament portal. Provision of open structured information.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Commitment 4.2. ‘Parliamentary Transparency’ section of Parliament’s website
Enhancement and improvement of the functionality offered by the “Parliamentary Transparency” section of
the Hellenic Parliament portal. Provision of open structured information.
• Completion by February 2015:
o 4.2.1. “Parliamentary Transparency” website visitor experience: Evaluation of the current state of the section concerning visitor experience (e.g. by creating relevant questionnaire) regarding usability, accessibility and institutional level.
• Implementation (gradually) by June 2016:
o 4.2.2. Improvements to “Parliamentary Transparency” section:
o Development of the “FAQ” section, for institutional and technological questions originating from visitor feedback.
§ Provision of the visitor information via RSS (Rich Site Summary) either by subject area or by type of decision.
§ Publication of statistical data.
§ Provision of structured information (based on open standards) for execution of the budget by the Parliament.
Editorial note: Commitments 4.1 and 4.2 have been clustered for the purpose of analysis in this report. They are discussed jointly in the narrative below.
Responsible institution: Hellenic Parliament
Supporting institution(s): None
Start date: December 2014 End date: June 2016
The main goal of commitment 4.1 is to adopt a system that would allow public monitoring of all parliamentary actions in the legislative process. The system was designed to replace the current numerous, mainly non-digital processes and flows. Drafting and amending legislation texts is still largely a manual job. It does not allow for automatically tracking changes introduced at each processing stage, or for publishing electronic documents in reusable, machine-readable formats. Commitment 4.2 is aimed at improving functionality of the “Parliamentary Transparency” section on the Hellenic Parliament portal by providing more high quality, useable data.
Commitment 4.1 Midterm: Substantial
Greece completed the commitment to track changes on bills (Milestone 4.1.1) on schedule. The government tested the new system by reviewing an existing piece of legislation. However, this test was not public. Regarding Milestone 4.1.2, the adoption of an international open standard XLM, the Hellenic Parliament had started discussions and favoured adopting the technical standard, Akoma Ntoso. The government made no final decisions. Milestone 4.1.3 had limited completion because the government had implemented only the initial design stage of the legislative document handling system.
Commitment 4.2 Midterm: Limited
The government has completed improving the transparency section of the website (Milestone 4.2.2), according to parliamentary staff; the Openwise IRM research team verified operation of the relevant section. However, the Openwise IRM research team found no evidence of any work toward creating a survey for website visitors’ experience (Milestone 4.2.1). Parliamentarians are still not required to track and publish decisions or changes made in documents, unless specifically mandated by the President of the Parliament. Therefore, the type, number, and timelines of publishing parliamentary decisions on the system remain unclear. Parliamentary staff have met with other stakeholders, but have not attempted to collaborate closely with relevant nongovernmental organizations, despite expressed interest (e.g. from Vouliwatch). The government was designing an evaluation questionnaire to assess the changes made so far. However, the drafting process was internal, with no outside consultation.
Commitment 4.1 End of term: Substantial
Based on the September 2016 inter-parliamentary group meeting attended by the Openwise IRM research team, there was no further progress on the implementation of an online system to track Parliamentary progress on legislation.
Commitment 4.2 End of term: Limited
Based on the September 2016 inter-parliamentary group meeting attended by the Openwise IRM research team, there was no further progress on improving the transparency section of the website, or on creating the evaluation questionnaire. Parliamentary staff stated that the continuing unavailability of required funding led to loss of ownership.
Did it open government?
Access to information: Marginal
Civic participation: Did not change
The Hellenic Parliament wished to address the lack of transparency and the difficulty in accessing parliamentary session information. The bill-tracking system in use was seen as inadequate and the commitments sought to create a more streamlined version. It was designed to replace the numerous, mainly non-digital processes and operations that did not allow for automatically tracking legislative changes or for accessing machine readable and reusable electronic documents.
Bolstering the parliamentary transparency section of the Parliament’s website would also provide an easier way for the public to track parliamentary staff actions. The partially completed commitments did improve public access to parliamentary texts but fell significantly short of achieving the levels of information availability envisioned by the commitments. As implemented, this commitment only marginally affected the status quo.
The commitment, if fully implemented, would have allowed members of civil society and the public to interact with the Hellenic Parliament in a direct way, increasing civic participation. However, due to Parliament’s limited human resources, officials only implemented the initial stage of a bill-tracking system. Consequently, the ability of the public to participate during the passage of a bill through Parliament has not changed.
Access to information: Marginal
Civic participation: Did not change
By partially completing this commitment to improve the transparency section of the Hellenic Parliament web portal, the government managed to make some updates to the system and increase access to information. However, this improvement is only marginal since no clear obligation exists specifying what information or documents must be published on the website.
If the government had completed improvements to the transparency section of the Hellenic Parliament’s website, specifically regarding accessing budget execution information, civic participation would have substantially increased. It would have been possible for citizens to examine, track and offer comments on a significant portion of decisions concerning Parliament’s internal operation. Civic participation has not changed due to the limited implementation of the commitment.
The third Greek Action Plan does not carry forward Commitments 4.1 and 4.2. During the September 2016 meeting of the interministerial OGP government group, the Openwise IRM research team suggested that Parliamentary staff could collaborate with relevant civil society groups in order to achieve some of the aims of these commitments despite the inability to attract the required funding.