As part of a comprehensive modernization of Parliament, the first three out of nine projects identified by an expert research group will be implemented this year with United Nations Development Programme assistance.
This includes the introduction of information technology to Parliament, with a new Parliament website which will allow MPs to contact its administration directly from their electorates.
`We will soon reach another milestone, which is a new, professional, creative and interactive parliament website. This will allow MPs to communicate with the intranet system from their electorates and obtain data from the information services. They can interact with the administration also from their electorates. A web page for each MP is also planned so that his or her constituents can communicate with them,` Parliament Deputy Secretary General Dammika Dasanayake told the Daily Mirror yesterday.
Major changes are also on the cards for the Parliament library. `Information will be digitised and audio video clips will be stored in digital form to be made available to MPs. Old manuscripts, Hansard and other legal documents on the verge of ruin will be preserved and digitalised to conserve them,` he said.
Human resources development is another goal, with the aim of providing efficient and better services to MPs. `The UNDP has provided a consultant who will report on how to develop human resources and will introduce new management systems. This will ensure that Parliament will enter into a new phase in the next few years,` Mr. Dasanayake said. Several seminars have already been conducted for over 700 parliament staff on attitude building, good management practices and in improving efficiency.
Information and communication technology infrastructure would be installed with an advanced document management system, which will cater to all documentation needs including the preparation of the Hansard.
In a bid to prepare the Parliament staff and MP to this initiative, a fully equipped IT centre was inaugurated yesterday (24) in the Parliamentary complex, adjoining the press room.
Under the first phase, MPs and Parliament staff will be trained on IT. In the second phase, the staff of MPs and media covering Parliament would be given training on IT, he said.
`The World Bank, the Information Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the UNDP fielded several expert missions on how to improve services to MPs. We discussed various areas, and one such is IT. The ICTA then did a needs assessment and Earnst and Young was entrusted with it,` the Deputy Secretary General said.
`They came up with nine projects and the first three will be implemented this year,` Mr. Dasanayake said. A cyber café in the library is already in operation. Services provided to MPs in Parliamentary Committees like the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Committee On Public Enterprises (COPE) will be modernised with World Bank assistance and will be provided with senior research advisors who will cater to all information needs of MPs.