Starting point and need for action

At the moment, IT is used inconsistently throughout the legislative process. From the first draft to the promulgation of an act, the constitutional bodies involved in the process use a variety of different software solutions and applications.

At the same time, the content of legislation is increasingly challenging, and the pressure to create new legislation is rising too. A report commissioned by the National Regulatory Council confirms the complexity of the situation and describes it in further detail (Erst der Inhalt, dann die Paragraphen [only in german]).

A process for drafting and passing legislation which is easy to use and electronic from start to finish offers many advantages:

  • Users are assisted with the individual steps in the process (such as setting up schedules, starting and coordinating the approval process within and across governmental bodies).
  • Once collected, data can be reused again and again.
  • Media discontinuities and redundant efforts are avoided.
  • The entire process and the status of the individual steps are permanently documented.

Project aims

The project “Elektronisches Gesetzgebungsverfahren des Bundes” (E-Legislation) is part of the federal project to consolidate IT services (Dienstekonsolidierung des Bundes). It is intended to

  • lay a new IT foundation for the federal legislative process;
  • eliminate existing media discontinuities in this process within and between the Federal Government, the German Bundestag, the Bundesrat, the Mediation Committee and the Office of the Federal President;
  • make the legislative process at federal level seamless, interoperable and electronic from start to finish;
  • update the legislative process and ensure that it is ready for the future by bringing it into line with the latest technological developments.E-Legislation Legislative Process with its different systems

This figure shows the entire legislative process, including the interfaces between E-Legislation, E-Promulgation (lead responsibility: Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection) and the New Legislation Information System (Neu-RIS; lead responsibility: Federal Office of Justice). E-Legislation addresses one part of the legislative process, which involves various constitutional bodies. It includes the electronic drafting and coordination of bills, electronic commenting, and the electronic submission of bills to the German Bundestag and the Bundesrat.

Process

The project plans to make E-Legislation available step by step, so that each service can be used as soon as it is ready. All functionalities are designed to be user-friendly, and their further development will take user feedback into account. Major assistance is being provided by key users and sub-working groups comprising representatives of the different federal ministries and constitutional bodies which were set up in the context of this project.

The E-Legislation project is intended to make available various components and applications, for example an editor for the collaborative drafting of legislative texts, a module for electronic regulatory impact assessment and a digital library of legal guidelines.

According to the current plan, the project will run until the end of 2023, and the E-Legislation functionalities will be expanded in several iterations. Core modules such as the electronic scheduling module and the text editor for collaborative drafting, comments and approval of legislative texts will be successively incorporated into E-Legislation.

Current developments

Initially, the central task of the E-Legislation project was to completely document, for the first time, the legislative process within the Federal Government, the German Bundestag and its parliamentary groups, the Bundesrat, the National Regulatory Control Council and the Office of the Federal President. To do so, a comprehensive inventory of processes was taken, which serves as the basis for the technical design of the E-Legislation project.

Based on this technical design, prototypes of the following E-Legislation applications were developed and integrated into the E-Legislation platform:

  • The E-legislation editor enables the collaborative, seamless drafting and editing of regulatory proposals.
  • The electronic preparation of legislative drafts supports the lead ministries in preparing the content of new regulatory projects.
  • The digital library of legal guidelines provides central access to current and relevant guidelines regarding the legislative process.
  • The module for electronic regulatory impact assessment (eGfA) guides users in a structured way through the steps that are necessary to systematically identify and assess expected and obvious regulatory impacts. So far, the modules for determining regulatory impacts on consumers, individual prices and price levels are available. Furthermore, the electronic sustainability check application (eNAP) will undergo a new technical design, probably before a new Federal Government is formed at the beginning of the 20th legislative period of the German Bundestag.
  • The application for intra- and interministerial coordination processes makes it possibble to coordinate regulatory drafts within and between the ministries involved.
German E-Legislation Platform

In addition, the content data standard LegalDocML.de has been developed for E-Legislation. The aim of this standard is to recreate the formal legal composition and structure of legislative texts in a machine-readable format and to ensure that the texts can be handled and passed on across processes. LegalDocML.de can therefore be considered the foundation of E-Legislation. It is the basis for the digitalisation of legislative processes. More information is available here: LegalDocML.de as the standard for a digital legislative process.

Next steps

To ensure that users can benefit as soon as possible from the added value provided by E-Legislation, the functionalities will be made available as soon as they are ready. The E-Legislation applications will be expanded and upgraded in several iterations, taking into account the needs and feedback of the user community. The editor module, the electronic regulatory impact assessment functionality and the platform itself will be continuously developed, with changes being made avaulavle to users. The project intentionally relies on open-source software and will be implemented in a customised agile development process which enables new functions to be added continuously and transparently.

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