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1999 Annual Report
Systems Services: Information Systems Services
Information Systems Services (ISS) is a service branch charged with providing technology and records management services, as well as support related to Senior Financial Officer duties and co-ordination of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the members and staff of the Legislative Assembly. Year 2000 (Y2K) compliance issues came to the fore in 1999, making it the year of the millennium for ISS. Most of the branch's work was geared to ensure that all potential Y2K system problems were anticipated and prevented. In 1999 the branch also completed a major upgrade to the electronic mail system, responded to increased demands for technology-related services from MLAs and staff, and continued to offer timely and reliable support service, regular upgrades, and maintenance to all system users. As well, the branch led the process to redesign and expand the Assembly's web site and to develop a new Intranet site.
In anticipation of Y2K most ISS activities revolved around ensuring that the Legislative Assembly was ready for the transition. This required reviewing every piece of hardware and software owned by the Assembly and taking the appropriate steps to ensure Y2K compliance. Branch staff devoted a good portion of the year to upgrading all systems, from individual workstations to mail servers and file servers, to achieve Y2K compliance. In most cases ISS applied software patches to upgrade application software or the system BIOS (Basic Input/Output System). In some cases complete workstations needed to be replaced. Staff checked and double-checked every piece of computer hardware and software. Before year's end the branch had upgraded to Y2K compliance all 83 constituency offices, 200 networked workstations in the Legislature Building and Annex, and the whole Legislative Assembly network.
ISS began upgrading the e-mail system (GroupWise) in 1998 and completed the process in 1999. Once the network at the Legislature was upgraded, work began on the constituency offices. This was a gradual transition, converting a few offices at a time over the first six months of the year. As well, ISS worked with a number of MLAs to set up their notebook computers for use in the Chamber, ensuring that they have access to both electronic mail and the Internet. By the end of the year 42 MLAs' notebooks were connected.
ISS staff made significant improvements to the Assembly's internal and external web sites. Internet changes included access to the text of bills and amendments, Standing Orders, and other House records, as well as the capacity to search these materials. The branch also improved the MLA directory in order to provide easier query and report functions. Intranet enhancements made time sheets, expense claims, and other forms available electronically. In 1999 the forms were available on-line for printing, but plans were made to enable members and staff to complete and submit their forms through the computer rather than having to write them out and mail them in.
To facilitate further web site development, the branch formed and chaired a web site committee with representatives from each branch. This committee began planning and implementing web site developments, focusing first on the new Intranet page, Our House, which was officially launched in the fall of 1999.
A significant administrative development related to telephones occurred in 1999. The area code for northern Alberta changed in January 1999. In anticipation of this ISS began planning for the required changes in 1998. Because of this pre-planning the area code change had minimal impact on the operation of the Assembly. In addition, a system implemented to manage the trouble calls to the branch logged almost 2,000 calls in 1999. ISS practice has been to enter most calls into the system and to keep response/resolution time to a minimum.
ISS provided expertise to all branches during the budget process. Because of this the presentation of the Legislative Assembly's 2000-2001 budget estimates to the Members' Services Committee went very well. Other areas of activity included testing, installing, maintaining, and upgrading in-house information management systems including: accounts payable, payroll, inventory, library, visitor reservations, Speaker's Office, and point-of-sale. Staff also purchased, installed, moved, and maintained computer terminals, printers, and software and provided training, advice, and other assistance to users. As well, numerous word processing, spreadsheet, e-mail, database, and financial systems training sessions were conducted, and network servers and workstations as well as remote workstations continued to be maintained and upgraded to maintain currency with today's technology.
The branch also continued to meet the needs of all constituency offices in the province, and Legislative Assembly Management Information System (LAMIS) continued to provide keyword lookup facilities to Hansard and Alberta statutes as well as the bill status report, the required tablings record, tablings, government motions, private members' motions, written questions and motions for returns, the RITE directory, committees and commissions, and Canadian phone books.
In addition to the web committee, ISS worked closely with all branches of the LAO in a number of areas. The EDP Management Committee, chaired by the director of Administrative/Information Systems Services, continued to meet regularly to set and manage the priorities of the Assembly. One of the more pleasurable activities ISS, Financial Management and Administrative Services (FMAS), and Human Resource Services (HRS) were involved with this year was presenting constituency office seminars in Edmonton and Calgary in the spring. A third seminar involving the other branches occurred in December. Plans were made to make this an annual function.
Other responsibilities addressed related to FOIP, records management, the Senior Financial Officer, and LAO policies and procedures. Of note were a request for access to former members' benefit records and the production of the Legislative Assembly's first set of financial statements.
The electronic copy of the Legislative Assembly Office Annual Report is UNOFFICIAL and is provided for information purposes only. The printed version is the OFFICIAL Annual Report.