Saturday, July 11, 2009

Firing Uganda's MPs?

I promise my posts will get more generally interesting, but I first want to set up what I am doing in Uganda and give you some cool info about what I am up to. I am currently working on the 3rd year scorecard. AFLI has already produced 2 scorecards for the first two years of Uganda’s 8th parliament. The coolest part of the job so far is that we actually put together a list, based on our data, of MPs who should be removed from office (or at least referred to the disciplinary committee). There is a law that basically says that if a member of parliament misses 15 or more consecutive Plenary (full) Sittings of Parliament, then he/she should be referred to the disciplinary committee and if the allegations turn out to be true, then he/she should be removed from office. We found about 60 MPs (out of 320) that missed at least 15 consecutive meetings. Pretty crazy hey!

We are worried about releasing this information because we don’t have data on excused absence (which could make a huge difference because if an absence is excused then it won’t count toward out 15 consecutive misses, and that information could possibly remove some people from our “hit list” if you will) and we don’t want Parliament to think we are on a witch hunt (because that could prevent us from getting any more data and would stop the project).

Blogging Again

This officially marks my second attempt to blog. I lasted about 2 weeks last time I tried this, but let’s hope that I can keep this one going for the duration of my stay in Uganda.

I arrived in Uganda about 3 weeks ago. I am here working with the African Leadership Institute (AFLI) which is an NGO that works with the post-conflict region of Karamoja and produces the Parliamentary Scorecard. I am the project manager for the latter.

The parliamentary scorecard attempts to keep Uganda’s MPs (Members of Parliament) accountable to its people. We score each member of parliament in three areas Plenary, Committee, and Constituency activities. Plenary is the full sittings of parliament: we measure how often they attend and participate. We also measure how influential each MP is. For Committee, was measure attendance and participation. And for constituency, we have each MP report how they used their Constituency Development Funds and what they are doing in their constituencies; we also measure how accessible each MP is with a really cool experimental game. All scores for each MP are relative to others, so we can then rank MPs from best to worst.