Propylon worked with the Montana Legislative Services Division (LSD) team on a large-scale data and process transformation project to successfully convert the Montana Code Annotated (MCA) from the aging mainframe environment to a modern, supported, user-friendly technology in time for the start of the 2017 session. The project was awarded for excellence in innovative technology at the 2016 Montana Government IT Conference in December. The award sought to recognize and honour innovation and excellence in the use of information technology in state government, and this project was chosen due to the transformational way in which it has addressed critical business processes, ensuring that the Montana laws are on a platform that will support the legislature.
The Montana Legislature’s technology infrastructure for the MCA was dated, over-complicated, and a number of the tools used to support the update and publishing of the MCA had become obsolete. Many of the systems had been in place since the 1970s and were no longer working efficiently. A number of the experts that supported these aging systems had retired in recent years, increasing the risk that an outage to the legacy systems would have major impact. All of these factors created the risk that a catastrophic failure could occur at a critical time in the legislative calendar when MCA publications were being produced.
About the project
To support their mission of alleviating risks, improving process efficiency, and maintaining accuracy, Propylon worked with the Montana LSD team to provide a solution that offered significant advancements to Montana’s core systems. The key objectives of the project were to migrate the MCA data, business processes and automation layers off the mainframe, implement a user-friendly, reliable and robust platform to efficiently manage the MCA, provide a set of tools that improve the efficiency and turnaround times of the MCA publications, and ensure the new technology platform significantly reduces the learning curve for new users.
The MCA is the “crown jewels” of the Montana Legislature’s data assets and its conversion had to be flawless, secure, and with defects easily identifiable and corrected. Propylon teams successfully converted the Montana laws into a professional content management system and built a suite of legislative enterprise applications to help manage the content update workflows and publishing processes. Features include new content dashboards with role-based access for users, and tools to ensure that the MCA is handled with the intricate care it merits.
Focusing on quality
A key component in the success of this project lay in paying meticulous attention to quality, both in the programming of the migration system and in its final execution. The data was successfully transformed to XML and stored in the new legislative workbench (LWB). The solution was customized to meet users’ needs and to ensure that the applications meet their current and future needs in supporting the complex process of managing legislation updates.
The success of the project means that the data is now off the mainframe and exists in a modern XML format which supports the publishing of information in multiple formats to accommodate the needs of the legislature and its stakeholders, whether that be a member wanting to find a section of law easily when they need to, or a constituent requiring an app that gives them a transparent view of Montana’s updated laws, for example.
Propylon’s Vice President of Technical Architecture, Kieran Fitzpatrick, said, “Migrating the MCA data into the LWB platform allowed us to work with the Montana state team to create greater end-user value through the addition of a modern enterprise application platform. Going forward, we will work together to provide a consolidated and shared legislative content management system.”
The MCA mainframe migration is part of a larger program of work to build an IT platform and suite of tools that will support the legislature management of electronic changes to the law for years to come. The next stage will focus on creating a new, fully mobile- optimized website for the Montana Legislature to increase constituent transparency and engagement.