Frequently Asked Questions


Q1. How do you analyse each statement?

Every MP has a unique identification code which we record against every single contribution he/she makes in Parliament. Needless to say, there is a lot that is said in Parliament for every day that it sits. Typically a parliamentary hansard is 90 pages long. Therefore we only record statements that are:

(i) Over 5 lines long;
(ii) Less than 5 lines long, but thematic / procedural;
(iii) Disruptive / Expunged

Each statement is classified by Method of Contribution (e.g Written Question, Point of Order etc), Topic (e.g Economic Development, Agriculture, Resettlement etc), Type of debate (e.g Bill debate, Adjournment Motion etc) and the language that the contribution was given in. Additionally, depending on the method of contribution, we also record the number of lines of the Hansard that such a contribution took.

Presently this task is done completely manually, but we have a cutting edge automation tool under development, which will lower the administrative burden (e.g line counting of hansards) and allow individual coders to spend their time more efficiently.

Q2. What is a method of contribution ?

It is a list of 15 categories under which we classify all parliamentary activity. The 15 categories are as follows:

1 - Written Question
2 - Written Question - Response
3 - Written Question - Follow up question
4 - Follow up question - Response
5 - Written Responses
6 - Bill / Regulation / Order - Administration
7 - Bill / Regulation / Order - Debate Oral Contribution
8 - Point of Order- Technical/Procedural
9 - Point of Order - Other
10 - Adjournment Motion - Oral Contribution
11 - Petitions
12 - Disruptive Contribution
13 - Expunged Statement
14 - Oral Contribution
15 - Oral Contribution - Core statement

Q3. What is a "Disruptive Contribution"?

A disruptive contribution is used to classify interruptions, typically during parliamentary debate, which are non-thematic and have been used as a tool to stall or detract from debate. The aim is to record the MP’s who are stalling the legislative function of Parliament. This is not meant to punish those who are raising valid points in an untimely fashion.

Q4. What does "Point of Order - Other" mean?

A "point of order - other" is a disruption caused by an MP in Parliament, when he raises a point of order, thereby causing the Speaker to pause the debate, but then makes no attempt to mention how the other MP’s contribution has been procedurally deficient, especially in light of the standing orders of parliament. This is coded to ascertain how points of orders are abused. This is primarily seen as a method to make a speech/point out of turn, or alternatively as a tool to interrupt another MP midway through a speech.

Q5. How do you score contributions?

We surveyed MPs across the political spectrum and were able to compute appropriate productive time scores for each of the 15 methods of contribution, based on either the number of instances of a particular input e.g per written question, or by volume, based on mins of preparation time per line e.g adjournment motion - oral contribution. Based on our findings we created a scoring guide which stipulated values for each of our methods of contribution e.g.each written question receives a score of 30 minutes of productive time. As the scoring system is applied across all MPs, there is no scope for individual bias to be accommodated within our system.

Q6. How many topics are there?

There are 42 topics and these are all classified under 3 key topic headers. If you refer the "topics" tab on the website, you will find the three key topic headers at the top which are;

1) Home and Foreign Affairs
2) Economy and Infrastructure
3) Governance, Security and Rights

On the "topics" tab you will also find the constituent sub-topics listed beneath their respective key topic headers.

Q7. Why do you have the key topic headers and topics?

It is fundamental to the research output of that we record the areas that are being discussed by MPs. However, as there are 42 standard topics, it was felt that the data could also be aggregated into key topic headers, which could provide a more holistic rank which is better suited for cross-comparison of MPs.

Q8. What is a non-participation, is it important?

The non-participation list is recorded against each topic. This is a list of all the MPs who have not contributed on the respective topic.

Q9. Why do you want to score and rank MPs?

We believe that MPs should productively contribute in Parliament. Whilst we can’t assess the qualitative input of MPs, we can assess the effort, in terms of productive time, that MPs put towards their roles as legislators. By scoring and ranking MPs we can reward those who are working hard, sometimes with little media coverage, whilst incentivising others to improve themselves given the enhanced transparency of the parliamentary process.

Q10. What does being the top rank mean?

The top rank means you have achieved the highest score (highest number of productive minutes) for the respective topic or overall rank. This is not a quality score, but illustrates the aggregate number of productive minutes that have been put in by the given MP.

Q11. What do the green, orange and red bars signify?

These signify the score each MP has in the given topic area. The topic ranking MP has a score of 100. This is a hybrid calculation that incorporates elements of a normalized z-score and a normalized ranking, which seeks to provide the best incentives for MPs to improve their parliamentary performance.

Q12. Is in a position to judge MPs?

We are not judging MPs. We are merely analysing public information and disseminating it in a way that illustrates otherwise unobserved parliamentary patterns.

Q13. How can we verify what you are saying?

We have provided a basic activity log for each MP’s last 50 contributions. In stating the exact location in the hansard of the mentioned contribution and also providing a full access downloadable hansard archive, any user can cross-check our coding process.

Q14. How will this initiative be sustained in the long term?

This initiative has been launched in the model of Social Venture Capital Investment. Initial contributing partners have been Verite Research (Private) Limited, Saberion (Pvt) Ltd and National Endowment for Democracy.
As the venture proves its social benefits, it is hoped that the private sector, research institutions and civil society in Sri Lanka will also join as contributors and enable this initiative to be improved and sustained.

Q15. My question isn’t answered here, what can I do?

Please email your question to [email protected]. We will endeavour to speedily respond.