Cámara de Diputados de la Nación de Argentina
The digital transformation strategy for the Chamber of Deputies of Argentina has been a pioneering effort to modernize the legislative body, with the process beginning in December 2019. The strategy aimed to achieve three main objectives: digitalization of parliamentary work processes, fostering citizen participation, and enhancing accessibility to public information. However, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated rapid implementation of these projects in order to maintain an active congress capable of making swift decisions. The transformation strategy brought about significant changes to the operations of the legislative body and demonstrated the potential for technology to enhance democratic processes.
Adapting to Remote Work
To adapt to the new normal brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, an operating protocol was developed to allow Members of Parliament (MPs) to participate in committee meetings, plenary sessions, and present bills remotely. This involved integrating Cisco Webex, a video conferencing platform, with existing systems, and implementing a digital remote signature system for MPs. In addition, a system was developed to enable file sharing and digital signing from anywhere. The outcome was the development of systems for internal administrative and parliamentary work, which facilitated the smooth operation of the Chamber of Deputies throughout the pandemic, allowing MPs to represent their constituents even when in-person meetings were not possible.
Hybrid Sessions and Remote Operations
The digital transformation strategy enabled the Chamber to hold its first-ever hybrid session on May 13, 2020. This milestone showcased the successful integration of technology into the parliamentary process. The remote operation protocol allowed for 20 sessions to be held in a hybrid manner, leading to the approval of more than 65 bills, submission of 2,203 bills remotely, and 293 committee meetings held either hybridly or completely virtually. The implementation of these remote operations demonstrated the resilience of the legislative body in adapting to unprecedented circumstances while continuing to fulfill its responsibilities to the Argentine people.
Notable Digital Processes
Among the notable processes that took place digitally were the discussions and approval of the 2021 Argentine Nation budget and the voluntary interruption of pregnancy law. These processes demonstrated the efficiency and effectiveness of new technologies in enabling legislative work even during extreme situations such as the pandemic. The budget discussion, for example, involved the virtual presentation of budget proposals by secretaries, directors, and representatives of the Ministry of Economy, followed by hybrid meetings for further deliberations. The voluntary interruption of pregnancy law debate saw a large participation of experts from across the country, facilitated by the virtual capacity of video conferencing systems.
The First Open-Congress Action Plan
The Chamber of Deputies of Argentina is now working on its first open-congress action plan, which consists of five commitments aimed at further enhancing digital processes, promoting equality and diversity, increasing transparency, and fostering citizen participation. This plan signifies the continuous efforts to advance the possibility of a more open congress with greater citizen participation and communication from all parts of the country. Key elements of the action plan include improving the digitalization of processes, seeking gender perspective and representativeness in the Chamber, creating an open agenda for MPs, publishing more information about committees, and promoting citizen participation through an updated open law portal.
The digital transformation strategy of the Chamber of Deputies of Argentina has been a resounding success in enabling the legislative body to adapt to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The strategy demonstrates the potential of technology to enhance democratic processes, increase transparency, and foster citizen participation. As the Chamber continues to develop and implement new tools and strategies, it is evident that technology will continue to play a significant role in shaping the future of the legislative process in Argentina.
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