« ZurückWeiter »
1. Charter and establish the Working Group.
2. Share and review current development plans.
3. Establish priorities for 1996.
4. Gather user requirements.
5. Establish data standards.
6. Establish guidelines for data coordination and system integration.
7. Approve specific development work.
8. Place emphasis on rapid prototyping, iterative development, early production use and testing.
1. Collect user feedback.
2. Establish priorities for 1997
3. Continue development work.
4. Establish integrated, synchronized databases.
5. Begin retirement of legacy systems.
1. Continue retirement of legacy systems.
2. Collect user feedback.
3. Establish priorities for 1998
4. Continue development.
At this point items 2-4 repeat themselves.
ESTIMATED COSTS AND STAFFING REQUIREMENTS
At this stage of planning for the legislative information system, it is difficult to project costs with any precision. The full scope of this effort first has to be approved or further defined by the committees. The Working Group, supported by the Senior Technical Team, will then have to develop the plan in more detail with time frames for the various phases agreed upon. This effort will obviously be multi-phased over several years.
The staff resources available to all of the Legislative Branch organizations that will be tasked to build this system are clearly a critical issue. For this plan, the Library has assumed that the system will have to built within existing resources approved by Congress. The time frame for completion of specific elements of the system will therefore have to be adjusted based upon the staff and financial resources available. Equally important, participating organizations will have to be able to manage their resources to allow them to fulfill their other mandated and priority mission functions.
It will be a significant challenge to build the proposed legislative information system with existing, and probably declining resources. With the
explosive growth of information technology throughout the country, the demand for staff with the technical skills needed to build the new legislative information system for Congress has become highly competitive. These market pressures are exacerbated by the fact that some of Congress' most experienced and skilled technical staff will be eligible for retirement during the time this system is being developed. While contracting for technical support is one option, the cost of such contracting is usually higher during the near term, especially because the skills needed are in such high demand, and will almost certainly be higher for the period when the system will be built. These forces make it especially important that Congress' technical groups be able to retain their skilled staff. In addition, these staffing constraints underscore the importance of a collaborative effort to create the system. It will take an enormous effort, and it will require the experience and special talents of all of the Legislative Branch agencies working together.
With respect to the Library, it should be pointed out that it is redesigning its text-based information systems for its own purposes which include enhancing support of CRS in their role in serving Congress. In undertaking to support a broader range of Congressional requirements, the Library will be leveraging its own efforts. To minimize costs, the strategy is to use shared technology whenever possible. For example, the work being done for the National Digital Library program, the replacement of SCORPIO, and the Global Legal Information Network will be based on the same technology strategy, e.g. open systems, client server, the Inquery Search Engine, Web Browsers, and the Internet. We would expect that this technology approach would be compatible with the approach of other appropriate Legislative Branch participants.
As noted in the Introduction, it is important to begin the process of coordinating the separate system initiatives under way within the Legislative Branch as soon as possible. Otherwise, this rare opportunity for significantly reducing duplication of effort will be lost. The committees may well wish to obtain additional comments on this plan from other offices and agencies of the legislature and from commercial vendors through an invitation for comment or through a hearing. These additional comments will undoubtedly prove useful in considering this plan. Timing is also important, however, both to continue progress and to ensure effective coordination of effort. The Library therefore recommends that the committees determine whether they wish to approve and implement this plan in its current or in a modified form by the end of the current fiscal year.
APPENDIX A: HOUSE PLANS
Plans for Retirement of MIN and ISIS
In fulfilling the Committee's mandate to retire MIN and ISIS by porting the data and functionality to a World Wide Web browser environment, H.I.R. will leverage its investment in these systems. H.I.R. is currently working on an overall strategy to retire MIN and ISIS services and identify migration paths to new services. The strategy involves developing and delivering services in an incremental effort, over the coming year. H.I.R. has already developed a pilot Web-based access to all of its Newswire and Periodical services. Additionally, a House Votes service has been developed and linked with extensive Bill information. The House Votes service accesses H.I.R. data sources and is linked with the Congressional Record and Full Text of Legislation in the Library of Congress THOMAS Web system. H.I.R. will continue to migrate MIN and ISIS services which can be quickly and effectively implemented via the Web. These services may not be the final answer, and as new efforts come on line, these services would merge with the new ones, or be entirely replaced by the new ones if appropriate. H.I.R. is taking this approach, because it can immediately meet the Committee on House Oversight mandates.
At the start of the 104th Congress, a vision was established for a CyberCongress - a shift to a new third wave paradigm built on communication, networking, and computing technologies. The essence of the vision is to remove restrictions of time and space for Members, committees and staff allowing them the flexibility to perform their work at the best time and best place. At the same time and using the same technologies, timely access to House information and activities would be available.
This vision manifests itself in three areas: legislative process, constituent participation, and staff support. Key elements are:
Focused, more productive Legislative Branch information research programs, for example:
Time-sensitive legislative information such as amendment text, text of rules, and reports accompanying bills will be made accessible almost immediately.
The World Wide Web "hypertext" model will be applied to legislative data allowing Members to easily navigate and drill down to the information they need.
Enhanced Communication among Members and staff - office, district and home, for example:
Universal in-boxes can be implemented allowing access to voice, E-Mail and fax messages from any location or device.
Workstations with built-in video-conferencing capabilities will allow Members to meet with each other, with constituents, and with staff; in Washington, at district offices and at home or remote locations when necessary.
Electronic decision support systems for Members, committees and staff, for example:
Whip counts can be taken quickly and completely using messagingbased groupware products, two-way pagers and other devices available
Electronic decision support facilities for committee 'brainstorming' sessions.
Relocation of work and staff to the district, closer to the constituents.
Convenient public access to the House via the Internet.
Constituent participation through E-Mail, Home Pages, and electronic town meetings and surveys combining the Internet and C-SPAN in unique ways and with minimal effort.
Tracking of events, initiatives, commitments and staff assignments.
Interactive multi-media based legislative and administrative training, and education at the time and place that meets the individual's needs, for example:
New staffers will receive an individual multimedia training package tailored to their job and information requirements for use as both a tutorial and a reference.
Paperless, workflow-directed office procedures, e.g., vouchers, service requests, even constituent correspondence, for example:
Payroll transactions will be initiated electronically, authorized by "electronic signatures" and delivered, processed, and confirmed very rapidly via workflow technology.
H.I.R. is taking an aggressive approach to achieving the objectives defined for the CyberCongress. As part of this effort, H.I.R has taken actions to improve the technology infrastructure, worked to help implement the new Equipment Purchase Guidelines, and assisted the Computer and Information Systems Working Group in the evaluation and recommendation of a House messaging system.
One important aspect of a new Congressional Legislative Information System is the necessary technical infrastructure to support the demands and
desired capabilities of the system. H.I.R. is involved in a number of initiatives to improve the technology infrastructure of the House. The Committee on Appropriations has authorized funds to upgrade the House communications infrastructure. This will involve updating the campus wiring plan, upgrading the telecommunications hardware, expanding the remote access capability, and enhancing the equipment to support the data communications environment. These actions are necessary to sustain the expected growth in the use of existing voice and data communications facilities and complex network applications. Implementation of these projects has begun and will continue through the next two years. These funds also provide a wide area data communication line in one district office of every Member.
At the same time, the Committee on Appropriations has made funds available for the procurement of desk top hardware to improve the operations of administrative and support offices of the CAO and to establish a uniform platform for implementing paperless financial and administrative operations. This funding will also provide one personal computer for each House office to assure that no office is restricted in its access to these improved services. Deployment of the systems has begun in H.I.R. and other CAO offices, with efforts by H.I.R. to standardize the workstations, servers, printers, and software. Deployment of the personal computers for each House office will begin in March, 1996, and proceed throughout the summer. While offices will be able to utilize these computers for multiple functions, the primary use of these computers will be for research, administrative, and financial services being implemented by H.I.R. and the Committee on House Oversight. H.I.R. staff is working with the Committee on House Oversight and Focus groups of House staff to select and prioritize applications.
Also, as part of improving the infrastructure and controlling the costs of technical support, on May 10, 1995, the Committee on House Oversight passed the Guidelines for the Purchase of Software, Computers, and Related Equipment. These guidelines provide direction to House offices for obtaining not only office automation products but technical support services as well. The Guidelines define the role of H.I.R. as technical consultant to House offices and places new commitments on H.I.R. for identifying requirements for hardware and software purchases. H.I.R. worked closely with the Committee on House Oversight, the Office of Procurement and Purchasing, House offices and vendors to develop procedures and practices to implement the Guidelines on October 1, 1995.
Another key component of modern information systems is messaging services. H.I.R. participated with the Committee on House Oversight's Computer and Information Systems Working Group in evaluating messaging products for potential use by the House. After an extensive process that included negotiation with House staff and vendors, the Group recommended that the House proceed with a "Proof of Concept" test period for Microsoft Exchange. On November 15, 1995 the Committee on House Oversight approved this proposal. The test period will take approximately 4 months, and if successful, the House will be able to operate a single messaging service that offers the foundation for development of other enterprise-wide capabilities.