Each time an election comes around, the Ministerial and Parliamentary Services (MaPS) team at the Department of Finance has to manage the ongoing employment or the termination of Parliamentary Senator and Members personal and electorate staff.
Depending on an array of conditions, the employment outcomes for the staff can vary from no change at all, to a delay of 4 weeks after the new ministry is sworn in.
Up until the 2016 federal election this process has been managed through a series of complicated Excel spreadsheets, however in May, the decision was made to update the system.
Why was OPC chosen?
OPC has had an on-going relationship with the Department of Finance. In the past OPC has helped deliver a number of projects, such as various Intranet and Internet upgrades.
Project goals, requirements and outcomes
The main project goal was to remove the reliance on Excel spreadsheets, and move the logic checks into a web based system. Due to our experience with Drupal, and our ability to list and filter data, OPC decided to import all the content into various content types such as Senator or Member, Electorate, Conditions of Termination and Termination Outcomes.
Using a complex implementation of Entity Reference, OPC was able to create lists using both forward and backward look-ups using the references, in order to list the content in various ways.
In the end, 226 Senators and Members were imported and matched against 226 Electorates, as well as two new Electorates being created for the 2016 election. Over 100 specific conditions display the 90 different termination outcomes.
With the initial project meeting only days before the Federal Election was called, OPC was able to deliver the final project to the Department of Finance intranet by the end of May, well in time to be used for the 2016 Election.
Support and maintenance
The key to the system is for it to be re-usable each election period, and as such, systems have been built into the website that will allow for future use.
Electorates, Senators and Members, Condition Triggers and Termination Outcomes can all be bulk imported at any time, and various administrative interfaces were developed in order to assist the setup of the entity references between all the content.
Finally, a custom module was built to help manage the site-wide setting regarding the election being a Double Dissolution