Digital Transformation

5 min

Pioneering Remote Deliberation: The Brazilian House of Representatives' Adaptation During the Pandemic

Câmara dos Deputados of Brazil

Written on September, 2020

Strategic Partners



  1. Introduction


The Covid-19 pandemic forced legislative bodies worldwide to find remote solutions for continuing their work. The Brazilian House of Representatives was among the first to develop a comprehensive approach to ensure the continuity of the legislative process, overcoming various challenges and setting a precedent for other countries.


  1. Creating a Virtual Plenary Architecture


To facilitate remote sessions, a virtual plenary architecture was designed, comprising three components: a videoconferencing platform, the Infoleg application, and a set of legislative systems. The challenge was to add features to the existing Infoleg application to make virtual sessions as close to in-person sessions as possible, allowing all 513 members to fully exercise their mandate.


III. Implementing Features for Virtual Sessions


Several features were introduced to mimic the dynamics of in-person sessions, such as managing speaker lists, providing voting guidance from party leadership, and displaying voting results on the application and large screens within the plenary. Additionally, secret ballots were implemented for internal elections, ensuring secure and fair electoral processes.


  1. Addressing Security Challenges


Security was a significant concern, requiring multiple layers of authentication and a secure cryptographic channel for data traffic. Biometric recognition, such as facial, iris, or fingerprint recognition, was also offered as a complementary option for parliamentarians to easily recover their passwords. These measures protected the integrity of the legislative process.


  1. Expanding Access to the Legislative Process


The remote deliberation system allowed parliamentarians to submit proposals and receive digital authentication from anywhere. In cases of multiple authors or amendments, the application facilitated collaboration and streamlined the voting process. This expanded access to the legislative process for parliamentarians, regardless of their location.


  1. Engaging Parliamentarians and Analyzing Performance


The transition to remote deliberation initially proved challenging for over 500 parliamentarians. However, performance indicators showed increased participation, a larger number of approved proposals, and improved channels of communication compared to the previous year. A dedicated call center was established to support parliamentarians during remote sessions, ensuring a smooth transition and effective communication.


VII. Enablers of Change and Future Implications


The successful adaptation of the Brazilian House of Representatives can be attributed to strategic decisions made in the past, agile methodologies, and a large task force working remotely. The remote deliberation model used during the pandemic laid the foundation for hybrid models in the future, enabling greater flexibility and accessibility for parliamentarians and citizens alike in various post-pandemic situations.


VIII. Enhancing Transparency and Citizen Engagement


The remote deliberation system not only improved the legislative process for parliamentarians but also enhanced transparency and citizen engagement. By making a wealth of information available to the public, such as committee meetings, plenary sessions, proposals, and laws, the Infoleg application fostered better understanding and trust in the legislative process among the citizenry.


  1. Overcoming Technical and Logistical Challenges


The implementation of remote deliberation required overcoming numerous technical and logistical challenges, such as configuring videoconferencing platforms, integrating internal systems, and ensuring the stability of the entire infrastructure. The IT team played a crucial role in tackling these challenges, enabling a seamless transition to remote sessions for the parliamentarians.


  1. Lessons Learned and Best Practices


The Brazilian House of Representatives’ experience in remote deliberation offers valuable lessons for other legislative bodies worldwide. Some key takeaways include the importance of investing in robust technological infrastructure, prioritizing security and authentication, engaging parliamentarians effectively, and fostering a culture of innovation and adaptability.


  1. Post-Pandemic Hybrid Models and Future Scenarios


As the world emerges from the pandemic, the Brazilian House of Representatives’ remote deliberation model can serve as a blueprint for hybrid models that combine the benefits of in-person and remote participation. These hybrid models have the potential to increase flexibility, accessibility, and inclusivity, allowing for more diverse participation in the legislative process.


XII. Conclusion


The Brazilian House of Representatives’ pioneering approach to remote deliberation during the pandemic demonstrates the power of innovation, collaboration, and adaptability in overcoming unprecedented challenges. As a result, the legislative process has been not only maintained but also enhanced in various aspects, setting a global precedent and providing valuable insights for other legislative bodies worldwide.

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