PAL coming up the home stretch at last

PAL is expected to be available to the public early in the second half of 2007, says the Parliamentary Counsel Office

The much-delayed Public Access to Legislation (PAL) project is about to enter its user acceptance testing (UAT) phase, following the completion of systems integration testing and regression testing.

Regression testing is the re-running of old tests against the possibility that updates have inadvertently introduced bugs into code already tested.

The Parliamentary Counsel Office says PAL “is expected to be in operation and available to the public early in the second half of 2007.” The previous progress report (Computerworld, March 5) gave the completion date as “mid-2007”.

Acceptance testing will involve members of all teams involved in the drafting and publication of legislation, and also staff of the Office of the Clerk and the tax drafting unit of the Inland Revenue Department.

The purpose of testing is to establish that the system will function according to specifications in a business context, the PCO says.

Testing will be done in a “production-like” environment, loaded with copies of all legislative data — more than 7,000 acts and regulations. At the same time, prime contractor Unisys will test performance. This is an area that has previously shown problems, both in the screen display and the printing of laws.

Successful completion of both UAT and performance testing is necessary before final acceptance of the system by the Parliamentary Counsel Office.

Even after release, legislative information from the PAL website will be regarded as unofficial. The text will be examined by PCO staff who will correct punctuation and layout for consistency of style. This process may take as long as three years, after which the text in PAL will become the official version of New Zealand legislation.

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