The Office of Procurement Regulation

Ineligibility Proceedings

 What are Ineligibility Proceedings?
   It is the process by which a supplier, contractor or senior officer who has engaged in prohibited conduct is placed on an ineligibility list which has the effect of excluding them from participating in public procurement proceedings.
 Who is a Respondent for the purpose of Ineligibility Proceedings?
    • Supplier or contractor - any person who is a director, manager, senior officer, partner or other similar officer or any person who purports to act in such a capacity

• Senior Officer - a managing director, chief executive officer, chief operating officer, deputy managing director, president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, chief financial officer, financial controller, general manager, deputy general manager, corporate secretary, chief accountant, chief auditor, chief investment officer, chief compliance officer or chief risk officer
 What falls under “prohibited conduct?”
   Prohibited conduct includes:
• consistently failing to provide satisfactory performance
• indulging in corrupt or fraudulent practices
• conviction of an offence under the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act, 2015 (as amended)
• offering an inducement or any corrupt, fraudulent, collusive, coercive or obstructive practice in relation to a tender or proposal
 Who determines whether to impose an Ineligibility sanction on a Respondent?
   The Hearing Panel is the tribunal set up by the Office of Procurement Regulation (“OPR”) to hear and determine Ineligibility Proceedings. The Hearing Panel will comprise members of the OPR’s Board and/ or Management. You can visit the OPR’s website www.oprtt.org to learn more about the current members of the Board and Management.
 Who can make a report to initiate the Ineligibility process
    A reporter can be:
• An officer of a procuring entity
• A bidder
• A member of the public
 How to make a report?
   A reporter can submit a report with supporting documents either to:
1. The Accounting Officer or equivalent of a procuring entity
2. The OPR via email to ineligibility@opr.org.tt

The reporter must provide at least the following details:
• The name and details of the intended Respondent
• The grounds or basis on which the reporter is seeking the intended Respondent to be placed on the Ineligibility List
• The facts and evidence to support the grounds of the report and the alleged prohibited conduct alleged carried out by the intended Respondent
 What happens after a report is made?
    An Accounting Officer or equivalent who receives a report must conduct an investigation and once satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to support a finding of prohibited conduct, they can submit the report and evidence to the OPR. Within 10 days of receiving a report either from the Accounting officer or equivalent or from a reporter directly, the OPR will review the contents and decide whether or not proceed. If there is sufficient evidence to support the finding of ineligibility or the imposition of a sanction, the OPR will send a Notice of Proposed Ineligibility to the supplier or contractor which is accused on prohibited conduct (“the Respondent”). If there is insufficient evidence, the OPR would notify the Accounting officer or equivalent or reporter of its decision not to proceed. However the report can be resubmitted to the OPR if new facts or evidence materialised and the report is revised accordingly.
 What is a Notice of Proposed Ineligibility?
   A Notice of Proposed Ineligibility is the document the OPR sends to the Respondent informing of:
(a) the details of the prohibited conduct the Respondent has allegedly committed and all evidence relative thereto;
(b) the grounds of proposed ineligibility;
(c) the proposed sanction(s); and
(d) the Respondent’s right, within ten (10) working days of receipt of the notice, to provide a written response to the allegations and/ or the proposed sanction(s).
 What should a Respondent do when they receive a Notice of Proposed Ineligibility
   The Respondent has ten (10) working days to submit a response to the OPR via the email ineligibility@opr.org.tt . The Respondent must utilise the prescribed form which can be downloaded from the OPR website www.oprtt.org.
The two (2) options of response are:
1. Notice of Intention to Contest (Form 1)- The Respondent must provide a written response to the allegations and proposed sanctions contained in the Notice of Proposed Ineligibility along with any supporting evidence;
2. Notice of Admission (Form 2)- The Respondent must indicate the extent of admission and any representations made in relation to the proposed sanction. If the Respondent admits to only part of the allegations, there must be a response to the allegations and sanctions not admitted, along with any supporting evidence.
 What happens if the Respondent does not provide a response?
   The OPR can issue a decision within ten (10) working days after the Respondent’s deadline date has passed. The OPR can impose an ineligibility sanction taking into account any known mitigating factors and will promptly notify the Respondent of its decision.
 What happens after the Respondent submits a response?
   Within five (5) working days of receiving the Respondent’s response, the OPR will provide a copy to the person that submitted the initial report to the OPR. The OPR will also provide notice of the date, time and place of the hearing to all Parties.
 Where will the Hearings be held?
   Hearings may be conducted:
(a) in person at Level 19, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, 1A Wrightson Road, Port of Spain or at such other place as the OPR directs;
(b) electronically,
(c) any combination of (a) to (b)
 Can a Respondent call witnesses at the Hearing?
   If the Respondent wishes to have witnesses present, a written request for permission for the attendance of witnesses in support of his written response must be submitted to the OPR at least two (2) working days before the date of the Hearing. The Respondent must show the relevance and necessity of the attendance of those witnesses.
 What happens at the Hearing?
    Each party may attend in person or may be represented by a Representative such as an Attorney-at-Law, engineer, quantity surveyor, valuator or agent. If a party fails to attend, the OPR’s Hearing Panel can proceed in that Party’s absence. The Hearing will be closed to the public.

The proceedings will be conducted in the following manner:
i. The Respondent or his Representative will have the opportunity to question the person who made the initial report to the OPR
ii. The Hearing Panel will have the opportunity to question the person who made the initial report to the OPR, the Respondent and any other person who was directed to attend the Hearing
iii. If the Respondent was permitted to produce witnesses on his behalf, the Respondent, the person who made the initial report to the OPR and the Hearing Panel will have the opportunity to question those witnesses
iv. The Respondent will have the opportunity to make a closing statement in relation to the contents of the Notice of Proposed Ineligibility and can present evidence of mitigating factors relating to the appropriateness of the proposed sanction
 When will the decision be issued?
    The Hearing Panel will issue its decision at the end of the Hearing and written reasons will be provided within five (5) working days thereafter.
 What are the Ineligibility Sanctions which can be imposed?
    Letter of Reprimand
This can be imposed where it is the Respondent’s first offences and its conduct is relatively minor or there are sufficient compelling mitigating factors.

Conditional non-debarment
This requires the Respondent to comply with certain conditions set out by the OPR within a set period of time, not longer than six (6) months. Failure to do so will result in the Respondent being automatically placed on the Ineligibility List. The conditions can include:
• Actions to improve business governance, including the introduction, improvement and/or implementation of corporate compliance or ethics programmes
• Implementation of integrity and/or corporate controls
• Correction of the harm caused by the Respondent’s conduct

Declaration of Ineligibility (being placed on the Ineligibility List for a period of one (1) to ten (10) years). This is the ultimate sanction and the severity of the conduct will determine the period of ineligibility. Suppliers, contractors or senior officers who are placed on the Ineligibility List will not be able to participate in public procurement for the period they are declared ineligible.
This means that procuring entities shall:
• Exclude them from receiving contracts
• Not solicit offers from, award contracts to or consent to sub-contracts with them
• Reject any bids received from them
• Not evaluate any proposals, quotations or offers received from them or enter into discussions with them
 Mitigating Factors to be considered before the imposition of an ineligibility sanction
    Before arriving at any ineligibility sanction, the Hearing Panel will consider different factors including:
(a) the severity of the Respondent’s conduct
(b) the magnitude of any losses caused by the Respondent and damage caused by the Respondent to the credibility of the procurement process
(c) the past conduct of the Respondent involving prohibited conduct
(d) the extent to which the Respondent cooperated in the investigation and if that cooperation is of substantial benefit to the procuring entity;
(e) whether the Respondent’s management has instituted or agreed to institute new or revised review and control procedures and ethics training programmes to prevent recurrence
 Can a Respondent request a review of the Ineligibility sanction imposed
    A supplier, contractor or senior officer (a Respondent) can request a review of the ineligibility sanction imposed based on the occurrence of one of the following events:
(a) there is newly discovered material evidence or facts which tend to exculpate the ineligible Respondent;
(b) a conviction or civil judgment upon which the ineligibility was based has been reversed;
(c) there has been a bona fide change in ownership or management of the Respondent; or
(d) there has been compliance with any remedial, preventative or other measures imposed by the Hearing Panel in the context of the sanction of Conditional Non-Debarment Where the basis of the request for review relates to the circumstances listed in (a), (b) or (c):
• a Request for Review (Form 3) has to be completed and submitted to ineligibilityreview@opr.org.tt along with supporting documentation. This Form can be downloaded from the OPR’s website www.oprtt.org
• Upon receiving this request, an officer duly authorised by the OPR will conduct the necessary checks to verify the information provided
• After the completion of the verification report, a Review Hearing will be held which will be closed to the public
• The Respondent will be notified of the date of the Review Hearing and be provided with a copy of the verification report. The Respondent can be represented by a Representative
• At the end of the Review Hearing a decision will be given and written reasons will follow
• Where the Hearing Panel decides to withdraw the Respondent’s name from the Ineligibility List, the OPR will inform the Respondent and public bodies within seven (7) days of this decision.

Where the basis of the request for review relates to the circumstances listed in (d):
• The Respondent must submit an Application for Release from Conditional Non-Debarment (Form 4) to ineligibilityreview@opr.org.tt along with supporting documentation. This Form can be downloaded from the OPR’s website www.oprtt.org
• The Hearing Panel will then begin its review of the application
• The Hearing Panel can direct a duly authorised officer by the OPR to verify the information provided by the Respondent. Once completed, a copy of the verification report will be provided to the Respondent who will have an opportunity to provide a written response to any adverse findings contained in that report
• If the Hearing Panel finds that the conditions set in the Order for Conditional Non-Debarment have not been complied with, the Respondent will be placed on the Ineligibility List. The Respondent will be informed of the decision and provided with written reasons for same.
• If the Hearing Panel finds that the conditions set in the Order for Conditional Non-Ineligibility have been complied with, the Respondent will be released from further obligation under the terms of the Order of Conditional Non-Debarment
  For more information
   Visit our website at www.oprtt.org or call us at (868) 627-4OPR (4677) or (868) 266-4OPR (4677)