World Bank publishes new ‘Global Suspension & Debarment Directory’

It has been common knowledge for years that governments should (and do) use exclusion mechanisms to protect public funds from corrupt suppliers and reduce performance risk. But little research has been done to identify proven methodologies and best practices in exclusion. This begs the question, just how prevalent are these mechanisms, and can any meaningful comparisons be made across systems?

We developed the Global Suspension & Debarment Directory with these questions in mind. As the first-ever consultative resource on exclusion systems, the Directory serves as a resource for anyone interested in learning how countries and organizations employ exclusion. 

Using data captured through the 2020 Global Suspension & Debarment Survey, the Directory summarizes the exclusion systems of 23 different jurisdictions. It includes references and available links to the relevant laws and regulations. 

To accompany the Directory, we launched an interactive database for users to sort and compare specific aspects of the included systems, access relevant resources for each jurisdiction, and download individual summaries from the full Directory. 

Our work on the inaugural Directory revealed several similarities—and more than a few differences—between systems. First, exclusion is a common tool used by governments across the world. Only one of the 23 jurisdictions surveyed lacked any type of government-wide exclusion framework. Also, every jurisdiction with an exclusion system gives the accused supplier an opportunity to challenge its exclusion. 

Despite these high-level similarities, significant differences exist in timing, scope, and process. First, the timing and format of a supplier’s opportunity to challenge its exclusion varies across systems. Certain countries and institutions grant the supplier an undeniable right to be heard by the decision-maker before any final decision. Other jurisdictions allow suppliers to challenge their exclusions only through an appeal process after the exclusion has taken effect. 

Additionally, the scope and effect of exclusion varies across the jurisdictions surveyed. A slight majority of jurisdictions have a “traditional” debarment system that excludes wayward suppliers from all procurements and publicly lists the suppliers’ ineligibility. On the other hand, at least eight jurisdictions use exclusion on a contract-by-contract basis. A supplier is excluded from only a single procurement process in these jurisdictions and is not automatically prohibited from bidding on future procurements; the exclusion is also not publicly listed. 

Exclusion systems also differ in the processes they use to impose exclusions. In certain countries and organizations, independent decision-makers with no (or a limited) role in procurements make exclusion decisions. In others, exclusions are imposed by procurement evaluators as part of the procurement process. And in a few jurisdictions, either approach may be used. 

Overall, the main conclusion we have derived from this research is that there is no universal approach to exclusion. As shown in the individual summaries, slight differences between the legal frameworks made it difficult to neatly categorize certain jurisdictions. Continued research, perhaps focused on a select few of these jurisdictions, would help elucidate these differences.

We look forward to continuing these essential research endeavors and expanding the Directory’s coverage.

The Directory would not have been possible without the steadfast support of the Debarment and Exclusions Subcommittee of the International Bar Association’s Anti-Corruption Committee and the partnership among the World Bank’s Office of Suspension and Debarment, the Sanctions Officer for the Inter-American Development Bank Group, and Le Bureau de l’Inspecteur General de la Ville de Montréal, and the many private practitioners, government officials, and academics who responded to the survey. 

To download the Directory and find more information, please click here.


Collin Swan is Senior Counsel (Sanctions) in the Office of Suspension and Debarment at The World Bank. Riya Gavaskar is a Program Assistant in the Office of Suspension and Debarment at The World Bank.

The authors would like to thank Caroline Wachtell, Program Assistant, and Nikolaos Doukellis, Legal Consultant, in the World Bank Office of Suspension and Debarment, for their contributions to this post.

The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Bank Group, its board of directors, or the governments they represent.