The leadership organization system in the House of Representatives of Brazil

Read Sérgio Mendes’s from Brazilian House of Representatives article

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My name is Sérgio Mendes and I work on the party leadership in the human resources department of the Novo party in the House of representatives of Brazil. I will tell in this article about the process of development of the Liderança Digital (Digital Leadership), the internal system of the House of Representatives created with the intention of assisting the performance of the leaders during the legislative process. Currently, several parties use this system and some others have recently requested access.


When I started working at the House of Representatives, Novo’s deputy leader had visited other party leadership in advance and understood that it was necessary to hire an IT team. So, my first mission when I started working at the house was to find a team that could develop a system for the leadership to produce and organize technical notes, minutes and similars.


I looked for examples in other leaderships and, in one of them, it was just two people working and storing everything on a server in the room. I was concerned about the instability that this system had, if the people who take care of this server could no longer work, how would the party easily manage to continue the legislative process?


Then, I tried to use a system called Infoleg Liderança (Infoleg Leadership) but, unfortunately, it didn’t work, so I looked for other alternatives. I visited the National Confederation of Industry and they have a system that runs using open data to control priority proposals, so the inspiration came from that system to try to develop our own system. I asked the Innovation and Information Technology Directorate of the House of Representatives to help me create a new system that would not only serve for the Leadership of the Novo Party but for all Leaders as well. And so Liderança Digital was born.


In addition to the information it has already made available on the House of Representatives website, as an author, rapporteur and progress of the proposal, Liderança Digital offers other services that serve for the better organization of leaders. These services include the creation of a technical note from the parties for the proposals, the creation of an opinion to guide the deputy on how to vote on a specific proposal, an explanation of why the party is against or in favor of it, and also to place a deputy responsible for monitoring each proposal.


In addition, this system assists us in evaluating the results of the votes, classifying whether it was very bad, bad, good or very good. This is so that we can understand how the work of the political party and the advisory services were in that proposition and if they did everything they could do. We have a checklist to know if there was a speech in Plenary, if it was amended, if it was highlighted, if it was well communicated and from that we give a score of 1 to 5 for the performance. This mainly serves for us to improve our actions in the legislative process, see what we can improve and in addition to having recorded everything that was done behind the scenes. In other words, with Liderança Digital it is possible to record what happens both in terms of results and in terms of performance.


Liderança Digital brings yet another function that benefits the organization of parties: the priority classification of propositions, both automatically and manually. Every proposition whose parliamentarian of that party is an author or rapporteur, the system automatically marks as accompanied, when the party goes to check the agenda, the Liderança Digital already shows all the propositions that need to be prioritized. And, in addition, the parliamentarian can manually mark those propositions that interest them the most.


Deputies’ offices also use Liderança Digital a lot. We have a work methodology where the Leadership takes care of the plenary, but whoever is the technical advisor to the legislature who takes care of the commission is the deputy’s advisor. Then the deputy’s aide goes there and he places a technical note in this system on the items to be voted on and generates a spreadsheet for his deputy. Before Liderança Digital this was done by hand, they made a spreadsheet with everything that would be voted on by the committee and had to look at everything that was going to be on the agenda or not and because of that, mistakes often happened. Sometimes, when the situation of the proposition changed, it was not updated automatically and caused confusion. With Liderança Digital everything is already updated, the report, author, if you had a view, among other things.


For the best maintenance of the system, we have a group called Liderança Digital Manager in which we decided to use the Agile methodology in which, every 14 days, a new version of the system comes out. The advantage of this is that you don’t have to wait to improve everything at once before you start using it.


Thinking about what we can improve in the future, Novo has an initiative that is a BI that assembles the convergences in the votes. This BI separates all the votes of the chamber by themes and analyzes the convergence so that the party can see the possibility of deputies from other parties to vote with them in this matter. For example, we used this tool with a deputy of ours who wanted to create a parliamentary front of competitiveness, we saw which parliamentarians are most aligned on this topic with us, so we made the convergence and he got the signatures. Therefore, we hired a data scientist in the leadership so that in the future they will be able to make a prediction based on the speeches made.


What, then, were the challenges in achieving Liderança Digital? The technical part was the easiest. The first challenge was to try to convince the structure of the House of Representatives that this is an important thing for party leaders and that it needed to be implemented. The second challenge is inherent in technology, it is people using the system. In the beginning, I was not able to generate an agenda because it was not everyone who put technical notes in the system, my boss realized this and asked everyone to use Liderança Digital and this was important to increase engagement. In order for it to work and for people to use the system, there was a mobilization, but above all, it is necessary that there is a political will, it is not possible to do all this work individually. As for the difficulties in adapting to technology, it was something easier since the House of Representatives was already well modernized, so people were used to dealing with technology.


For houses that have less developed technology, I think it is possible to implement this system, but there must be a political will accompanied by management. For the House of Representatives it was easier because everything was already well structured, it has a strategy, it has a project and it has a good technology team. It is necessary for everyone to see the gains that the implementation of this system brings in all spheres. The transparency that is given to the citizen is of paramount importance, anyone can access the Chamber’s website and access all information about the legislative process, about deputies and parties. 


In the party sphere, what is gained is knowledge management. For example, next year there will be elections and perhaps there will be an exchange of parliamentarians, the next elected will be able to access what has already been done by the party and work to continue. This is essential to make a leap in the quality of the party’s organization because it has structured data and knowledge management. All of this has a great impact on the possibility of political work that a small, but well-organized political party may have within the legislative house.


Finally, where to start to be able to implement this in other houses and parliaments? You have to be resilient and willing. It cannot be ignored that he is inside a political house and that he needs to have a certain power of persuasion and convincing to show that this project is a priority. You may be the best coach in the world, but first you will have to politically convince both your leadership and the home. In addition, try to get out of the spotlight, seek out your superiors and the house politically and join other leaders so that you will have much more strength.

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