Parliamentary informatics

Parliamentary informatics

Parliamentary informatics is the application of information technology to the documentation of legislative activity. The principal areas of concern are the provision, in a form conveniently readable to humans or machines, of information and statistics about:

* individual legislators
* particular legislative proposals
* votes thereon
* text of legislation

Parliamentary informatics is carried on both by officials of legislatures and by private for-profit and non-profit actors, with motivations ranging from the administration of parliaments to lobbying and facilitating democratic discourse.

The division of activities between official and unofficial activity differs widely between polities, even within a single country. There exists substantial overlap with disciplines such as psephology and, as far as the text of successfully enacted legislation is concerned, legal informatics in general.


Access to parliamentary information is the most significant issue in parliamentary informatics; access may be inhibited technologically through the provision of parliamentary information in a form not amenable to processing by machines, or legally, by copyright or other protection of the parliamentary record.

Ultimately, it may be possible to provide citizens with a comprehensive overview of all the legislation going through parliaments everywhere in the world, which would allow the tracking of the implementation of international treaties and of general legislative trends.

Round the world

United Nations

The website gives hyperlinked access to transcripts of the General Assembly and Security Council of the United Nations, with parsed voting records.


[] is a community-funded site which was launched in June 2008 and automatically collects and publishes in an easy-to-read format the transcripts of all Australian Government House of Representatives debates, questions, discussions and notices. The site was developed in Australia with the assistance of the UK-based mySociety group who also built TheyWorkForYou from which OpenAustralia has been adapted. The site allows comment and discussion against debates and allows users to track the level of participation of Member of the House in debates, including statistics on their appearances in the House — so citizens can keep track of their representatives and be fully informed and involved with their Member's performance in the House. Further enhancements are planned to OpenAustralia including the online publication of transcripts from the Senate and Committees as well as the [ Register of Members' Interests] . Within weeks of being launched OpenAustralia attracted a lot of attention and positive feedback from both the public and government and is set to pave the way for closer working relationships between government and citizens.


[ "Africa i-Parliaments"] is the portal of the regional initiatives of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA) aimed at strengthening the role of African Parliaments in fostering democracy and good governance by developing common information services and tools, and building information management capabilities with the objective of making Parliaments i-nterconnected, i-nformed i-ndependent, or in short, i-Parliaments. The project includes two main initiatives:

[ AKOMA NTOSO] (Architecture for Knowledge-Oriented Management of African Normative Texts using Open Standards and Ontologies) proposes an XML document schema providing sophisticated description possibilities for several Parliamentary document types (including bills, acts and parliamentary records, etc.). It aims to standardize simple, technology-neutral representations of Parliamentary Documents in order to improve inter-Parliamentary cooperation and reduce the costs of Parliamentary IT support systems. AKOMA NTOSO defines a set of recommendations and guidelines for e-Parliament services in a Pan-African context and provides an enabling framework for the effective exchange of machine readable Parliamentary Documents such as legislation, debate record, minutes, etc.

[ Bungeni] – Parliamentary Information System is an end-to-end suite of applications that provides a world-leading solution for drafting, managing, consolidating and publishing legislative and other parliamentary documents. Bungeni aims to increase the efficiency of parliamentary activities and make Parliaments more open and accessible to citizens -- virtually allowing them “inside the Parliament” or Bungeni, the Kiswahili word for “inside the Parliament”.


[ How'd They Vote?] is a volunteer-run website providing information about the voting record and speeches of MPs.

European Parliament (Dutch members)

[ Testbeeld Europa] (Dutch languauge) shows how the Dutch Members of the European Parliament voted. Made by the nonpartisan, non-profit [ Instituut voor Publiek en Politiek (IPP)] .


The Parliament in France does not publish any voting rolls.Fact|date=January 2008An association of free software campaigners known as [ April] has been gathering declarations from candidates standing for election about their opinion on the issue of free software, and providing an interface for voters to look up the results. []


[ Georgian Parliament] has information on MPs, and their voting records. [ Civilin] has information about legislation. [ My Parliament] aggregates it all together.


[ mzalendo: Eye On Kenyan Parliament] provides electronic information about the Kenyan parliament, which is otherwise only available offline.


[ Atviras Seimas] provides statistics for MP attendance, votes, speeches, rebellions, travel maps, popularity ratings based on internet search result counts. It is a volunteer-run website.


[ Citizen Think Tank]

New Zealand

[] is a volunteer-run project covering all of the NZ Parliament.

[ CommoNZ] provides lists of how MPs votes on non-party votes in Parliament (in New Zealand, many votes are formally conducted by the parties rather than the individuals, even in respect of MPs with constituencies).


[] helps you find the politician of your choice based on expertise, professional background, age, religious affiliation, and political experience. More than 90% of Dutch candidates for national parliament filled-in an online questionnaire on which the system was based. It was made by the foundation "The New Way of Voting" (See: [ Het Nieuwe Stemmen] or its international forum: [ Forum]

[] tracks voting behaviour of Dutch political parties.

[ Stemmentracker] was launched in the national elections in November 2006. For crucial votes the site provides an introduction to the vote and shows how parties voted. A voter can also vote, so the systems shows the parties that voted most like the user. Made by the nonpartisan, non-profit [ Instituut voor Publiek en Politiek (IPP)] . IPP looking for possibilities for keeping it up to date in the future.


The [|Institutul pentru Politici Publice] has created a web site with lots of [ structured data about the Romanian Parliament] . Adrian Moraru of this organization said [ in an interview] with mySociety explains how they have had to obtain much of their Parliamentary data by court action.

United Kingdom

The situation in the United Kingdom is very active, with several of the major volunteer projects run by mySociety. The official [ UK Parliament website] provides transcripts of the Parliamentary debates and votes in plain text form, and these are parsed by the a project known as [ parlparse] into a timeline of publicly available structured XML files. These files provide the data for TheyWorkForYou, which hosts the speeches in a user friendly form and creates email alerts and rss feeds, and Public Whip, which keeps track of the votes and allows for an expression of their meanings in plain English.

Independently of this, the academic Philip Cowley at Nottingham University researches specifically into how MPs votes through his [ Revolts website] and publications.

Commercial companies [ Dod's] , [ DeHavilland] , [ Political Wizard] and [ Randall's] offer parliamentary monitoring for money.

United States of America

* [ CampaignMoney]
* [ EarmarkWatch]
* [ FollowTheMoney] - State-level money-in-politics data.
* [] - GovTrack allows you to track the progress of legislation in the US. Offers access to data and apis as well.
* [ Legistorm] - Online access to government disclosure documents.
* [ MAPLight] - Looks at connection between money and politics.
*Metavid is a searchable archive of legislative video.
* [ OpenCongress] - OpenCongress brings together official government information with news and blog coverage for compressive site on legislative activity
* [] - This website from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics tracks money in U.S. federal politics, including contributions and expenditures for congressional and presidential campaigns, lobbying, personal finances of politicians, the "revolving door" between government and private industry, 527 organizations and more.
* [ ProgressivePunch] - Provides summaries and ratings based on votes.
* [ WashingtonWatch]
* [] - Combines various data sources into a unified interface. APIs and data dumps for everything. Free software. Also provides tools to get involved with politics.

Comparisons between countries

* [ Arthur Edwards] at Erasmus University Rotterdam has analysed retrospective voter information websites in the United States, United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
* [ Simon Hix] at LSE analyses roll call voting records across Europe.
* [ VoteWorld] in the US is creating an archive of roll call voting records internationally.

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