Dr. Fotis Fitsilis, Head of the Department for Scientific Documentation and Supervision, Scientific Service of the Hellenic Parliament
Legislation Editing Open Software (LEOS) is a free software tool that facilitates the editing/reviewing of legislative texts and generates legislation produced in an interoperable format. Dr. Fotis Fitsilis, member of the Scientific Service in the Hellenic Parliament, used LEOS to educate the future generations of public officials.
Legislative drafting is guided by principles and tradition, but the digital dimension is rapidly gaining significance. Legislatures, lawmakers and legal professionals gradually discover legal informatics as a scientific field capable of producing tools and services that have the potential to offer substantial assistance in the law making process.
The Hellenic National School of Public Administration and Local Government was among the first at a global scale to identify the need to educate the future generations of public officials in legal informatics patterns and tools. A legislative drafting laboratory was developed and the pilot course with ten students of the ‘digital policy’ special section took place in Spring/Summer term 2020. The Lab was based on a detailed, modular and hence reusable curriculum and was supported by a comprehensive manual exclusively developed for the purpose.
Dr. Fotis Fitsilis, member of the Scientific Service in the Hellenic Parliament and team leader of the Hellenic OCR Team, a crowdsourcing initiative for the processing and analysis of parliamentary data, designed and led the laboratory. Teaching included, among others, introduction to legislative drafting and discussion of legal informatics principles.
The use of XML for the generation of structured legal documents was explained as well as recent developments in ontologies and data schemes. In this regard, the European Interoperability Framework was shown, followed by a detailed analysis of the European Legislation Identifier and the Akoma Ntoso standard. A series of case studies displaying such systems at the European Union level and in the United States Congress was also presented.
Analysis and explanatory use of the LEOS constituted the core of the laboratory. The students learned about system architecture and interoperability issues. Operational aspects in the use of LEOS were depicted through working on a real-world example of a presidential decree (proedrikó diátagma).
Due to the pandemic situation, the legal tech Lab was swiftly transformed into an online demonstration of the tool’s installation, basic configuration and standard functionality for educational purposes. Pros and cons of a potential system operation in the Hellenic public administration were discussed and student feedback was recorded and evaluated.
Interestingly, 90 % of students described the use experience of LEOS as ‘good’ and 78% think that the tool can provide high added value to the legislative drafting process. To build on the Lab’s successful implementation, the National Centre of Public Administration and Local Government is planning a series of follow-up activities to disseminate the results among public administration entities and participants to the legislative drafting process.
The Hellenic OCR Team was established in 2017 as a voluntary, cross-sector and decentralized platform with the ambitious goal to transform and study parliamentary control data. While studying LEOS, the Hellenic OCR Team looks further into generic issues that hinder systemic integration and disrupt implementation of seamless workflows and data exchange. The Team is looking forward to cooperating further with the LEOS community and to decisively contribute to the creation of a fully configurable integrated solution for the drafting and amending of legal documents.