Parliament considers options for Hansard’s online future

Written by Sam Trendall on 24 April 2018 in News

Supplier feedback sought on possible creation of new publishing system for parliament’s official record

Credit: CROFT MALCOLM CROFT/PA Archive/PA Images

The Houses of Parliament is examining the potential implementation of a new online publishing system for Hansard – the official record of everything that is said in parliament.

The Parliamentary Procurement and Commercial Service has published a prior information notice (PIN) seeking to engage with potential suppliers of either a newly built publishing tool, or the support and maintenance of Hansard’s existing software. 

“The Houses of Parliament has published this PIN to try and identify potentially interested organisations with relevant expertise and experience to provide a publishing system that will integrate with existing applications and software used in producing the Hansard documents every day,” the notice said. “The system will support the no-fail publishing of business-critical documents for the House of

Lords and the House of Commons on the parliamentary website and as printed publications.”

Hansard moved to a new, mobile-friendly website in 2016. It features an improved search and filtering function and, for the first time, enables all new and archived records to be accessed from one online location. 

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The site handles a vast amount of data each day, with new content published between 7pm and 5am on every day that parliament sits. This includes XML and PDF formats, with the length of documents published ranging from four pages up to 1,500, the notice said.

To help Hansard’s internal publishing team manage this wealth of content, the Houses of Parliament is looking for an external supplier to either build and maintain a new publishing system, or provide the necessary maintenance for its existing tools.

“The system must enable the content to be grouped and published according to current 'structures’ – parliamentary sessions, bound volumes, daily parts, and their associated index publications,” the notice said. “It must have the ability for the publishing team to be able to adjust these structures and create new ones as required.”

The official reporting service requires a system allowing content to be published in XHTML on the Hansard website, and to be presented in XML and PDF formats elsewhere on the site.

Parliament is ultimately looking to award its chosen supplier a five-year contract beginning on 1 November. Whether it opts for a new system or the maintenance of its existing platform, the chosen supplier will be required to provide round-the-clock support.

Hansard reports more or less verbatim everything that is said in both houses of parliament. In addition to a “rolling” version that is published online several hours after a day’s sitting, a full record is published the following morning, both in print and on the internet.

Its current website was developed by the Parliamentary Digital Service and parliament’s Rapid Apps team, working alongside Hansard staff in both the Commons and the Lords.


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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