Project Date: Oct - Dec 2014
How might we create a web application that streamlines and simplifies the legislative process for clerics while making it easier for legislators to draft laws using modular templates.
Draft is a better way to write, manage and implement legislation. It makes legislation a living document up to date with our current standard of cloud documents. The system is adaptable for any government. The concept emerged from interviews with numerous clerks and aides in the local, state and federal government.
The first weeks I spent some time understanding what else was out there. I wanted to know what had worked, what had failed and why. MyMaryland (non defunct) attempted to create a direct democracy application, a lot like I had tried with an earlier project, Common House. Democracy OS created their own political party that utilized an web app where citizens could directly vote on legislative issues. Adam Becker created a better way for the Federal Government to negotiate contracts. The Sunlight Foundation creates products promoting increased transparency in government.
Concept Generation and Validation
After talking about the concepts with various experts, it became clear that a will for an engaging front-end system was there but that the technical capabilities of their back-end systems didn't bring them close to being able to provide or build such a service. I re-oriented my efforts towards a robust backend clerical and drafting system that would create the framework for future front-end systems.
"Government needs to work well internally before we can hope to create better front-end systems." — Adam Becker
To choose which concept to pursue I used an impact/achievability matrix. It became clear that a robust legislative backend was the best option.
I mapped out the flow of legislation through an average state government along with the necessary features and permissions presets. I also read through the Oakland Sunshine Ordinance, the Ralph Brown Act and the GPO Legislative Process Overview to make sure Draft included all the features it needed from a legal stance. Doing this helped me build out the flow, feature set and information architecture.
I produced a number of rough sketches, playing with different architectures and layouts.
Clerks can custom map permissions and flows based on the governments unique regulations and processes.
Write legislation using legal language modules. Simplifying the process from writing XML.