Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Congress and workflow

Interesting post on the role or otherwise of workflow engines using Congress as an example.

In my opinion, the reason that “workflow” is such a bad fit for Congress (or any other law making body) is that that process of making law takes place according to a set of constitutive rules, not a set of imperative rules (after John Searle).

I.e. Congress does its work in a competitive, game-like environment where “plays” in the game are deemed admissable or inadmissable based on a set of constitutive rules. Congress does not follow a set of imperative rules of the form (do this; then do this; if this happens, then do this…). Workflow engines can work fine in the latter environment but are very problematic in the former. Especially when you consider that the constitutive rules under which Congress operates can themselves be modified by Congress. In this sense the “game” underlying congress is very similar to (Nomic).

The LWB system has to deal with these realties of legislative workflows. The white paper covers some of this and is available : here.

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