Bermuda buys first bill-tracking system

While Americans have been able to view bills online for years on the Library of Congress's Thomas Web site, the Bermuda government just bought a $64,000 automated law tracking system for its own lawmakers.

Vendors hope to finish training the Bermuda Legislature and Executive Offices on how to use the “Cabinet Office Legislation Tracking System” or COLTS by this summer.

Government officials now have to pick up a phone to find their bills and they rely on paper files to see what is missing. They share Excel files or pass around paper to view the evolution of their initiatives.

Jason Britton, a software engineer at COLTS's developer Scientific Technologies Corporation, said the intranet-based workflow management system will hold officials responsible for slowing up the passage of bills.

“There’s a lot of finger pointing in the meetings as far as who’s accountable," he said. "There’s a lot of time spent trying to track down who’s working on something and where it’s at."

Now, Britton hopes to train about 110 COLTS users of Bermuda ministries by the end of July. He is currently completing training for the Cabinet Office and Attorney General.

Officials will be able to view lists of who has not input comment and send off status request e-mails to tardy chambers.

Unlike the Thomas Web site, which posts bills from Congress to the Internet, COLTS is an internal system.

At this time, the Bermuda government has no plans to allow Bermudians access to the lawmaking process online.

Britton said residents would not be interested in COLTS details. “This is more for conversations…no one wants to read the attorney general’s drafting instructions on how to word a bill,” he said.

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