The World Bank has just published the results of a pilot survey into the structure and operation of exclusion systems in eleven different jurisdictions around the world including Australia, Brazil, Tunisia, the US, the EC and the World Bank. The pilot examined six key areas relating to the variously described ‘exclusion’, ‘debarment’, ‘disqualification’, ‘suspension’ or ‘blacklisting’ powers used against wayward suppliers within these procurement systems. The examined areas included such issues at the grounds for exclusion, whether they are publicly listed, the length of debarment and the effect on current and future contracts.
Possibly the most interesting finding suggests that “most jurisdictions indicated that exclusions are generally between one and five years in length”. However, it is not uncommon to see debarments of between five to fourteen years in length being handed out by the World Bank. The World Bank also stands out as the only system in which the baseline sanction (a starting point of three years debarment) is the same for all its exclusion grounds e.g. Fraud, Corruption, Collusion and Obstruction. Responses also indicated that the World Bank and Tunisia were the only jurisdictions for which poor performance is not a ground for exclusion.
The pilot report is undoubtedly a valuable tool in understanding the methodology of a variety exclusion mechanisms. Six of the jurisdictions surveyed also revealed the ability to exercise cross-debarment which is a discretionary power that permits the exclusion of a supplier debarred in another jurisdiction. Time will tell if this initiative does lead to development of best practices as its authors hope. Beyond that however it would not appear that any global effort towards harmonisation of these increasingly prominent debarment powers is on the agenda.