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Eye On Boise

New GEMS bill-drafting system wins award

Idaho's Legislative Services Office has won an award from the National Conference of State Legislatures for its new Government Electronic Management System, or GEMS, that handles bill-drafting, processing of bills and votes, journals, calendars and more during the legislative session. Legislative services spokeswoman Sheila Ison said the new system was developed in-house to replace an old bill-drafting system that was purchased from a company 30 years ago that's since gone out of business; the old system was no longer supported. While other states have spent millions to purchase and customize new products, Idaho decided to develop its own system from scratch. The result: Fewer staffers now are needed to operate the system, they don't have to put in as many long hours during the session, and information is available to legislators, staff and the public faster. The project cost a total of $2.6 million, took six years to develop, and became operational in August of 2008.

The GEMS development team included IT systems analyst Norma Clark, Noreen Chen, Michael Ramshaw and Kelly Reister.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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