Delayed legislation system still on track

The PAL system shooting for a mid-year date to finish development and integration

The Parliamentary Counsel Office has finished the updates requirements of the ill-starred Public Access to Legislation (PAL) computer system, as well as a proof-of-concept and a “spotlight review” to verify that new elements will work as expected.

It is now aiming for a mid-year date to finish development and integration. This will be followed by performance and stress testing, final implementation steps and training, towards a go-live date of late this year or early 2007.

This is on track for the schedule set at the major revision of the project in early 2005. PAL was originally set to go live in February 2003, and is thus more than three years late.

The capital cost of the project has steadily mounted. From an original $5.19 million, it was revised at the end of the first stage, in February 2002, to $8.174 million.

The total capital cost of PAL is likely eventually to be around $14 million, though provider Unisys has contributed about $3 million of this.

The proof of concept trial focused particularly on the capability and performance of a new print rendering engine (Arbortext E3) in the production of electronic files for printed documents. The originally specified engine was assessed as not being up to the job.

The new PAL website and the capability and performance of its search engine (DTSearch) were also checked out, as were other areas where shortcomings were identified — the production of Bills with correct line numbering and the ability of the new system to produce Bills with correct revision-tracking markup for display on the new website. “The proof of concept exercise successfully confirmed these matters,” says the PCO.

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