This Annex provides guidance to staff on the handling of procurement complaints. It should be read in conjunction with Appendix 3 of the Procurement Guidelines and the Consultant Guidelines, respectively, setting out, for the benefit of bidders and consultants, the Bank’s role in handling complaints.
1. All procurement complaints submitted to the Bank should be in writing. Verbal complaints are considered when subsequently put in writing or properly documented by the staff who receive them. When a bidder or a consultant, directly or through an Executive Director, questions a proposed award, the TTL is responsible for dealing with the matter, in collaboration with INT if the complaint entails an allegation of fraud and corruption.
2. All complaints received by the Bank require high-priority action. Any complaint is immediately forwarded to the responsible TTL, copied to the RPM, and the TTL sends a letter of acknowledgement to the complainant and arranges for the complaint to be recorded in the complaints database. As specified in Appendix 3 of the Procurement and Consultant Guidelines, respectively, this acknowledgement is the only communication between the TTL and complainants during evaluation and until the award of contract is published.
3. Unless the complaint is determined to warrant confidential treatment, the complaint correspondence is forwarded immediately to the borrower with a letter requesting the borrower to follow up with the complainant. This applies to procurement subject to prior and post review.
4. If a complaint warrants confidential treatment (whether or not it is in relation to alleged fraud or corruption) as indicated in the Procurement and Consultant Guidelines, the TTL consults with the RPM on the most appropriate course of action.
5. Complaints alleging fraud or corruption warrant particular care and discretion, and are reported by the TTL or PS/PAS to INT and the RPM. The Bank may determine that such complaints should not be shared with the borrower or that the communication should be limited to relevant extracts.
6. If the Bank receives a complaint from a potential bidder or short-listed consultant prior to the closing date for the submission of bids or technical proposals, the communication to the borrower includes the Bank’s comments and advice to the borrower in taking any appropriate actions and providing its response to the complainant.
7. If the Bank receives a complaint after the opening of bids or technical proposals and prior to the award of contract, the communication will be sent to the borrower for due consideration and appropriate action as per paragraph 3 of Appendix 3 of the Procurement and the Consultant Guidelines, respectively. In exceptional cases, the RPM may decide that the borrower, before proceeding, be asked to immediately forward all relevant documentation to the Bank for its review of the case.
8. In the case of a contract subject to prior review, the Bank examines the complaint in consultation with the borrower, requesting clarification or additional information from the borrower, or that the borrower requests clarification or additional information from the bidder/consultant, as necessary, to resolve the complaint. The Bank’s no objection to the contract award recommendation for contracts subject to the Bank’s prior review will only be issued after the complaint has been satisfactorily resolved by the Borrower.
9. If the complaint is received after the award of contract but before contract signing, the RPM may request the borrower to postpone the signature until the complaint is resolved.
10. The PS/PAS assigned to the project assists the TTL in handling the complaint in consultation with the RPM, LEGPR and, if required, INT and/or OPCPR. The RPM reviews all complaints, and clears draft responses to complainants in complex cases, or under exceptional circumstances, or when the complaints include an allegation of fraud and corruption.
11. In cases subject to the review of the OPRC, the complaint and the draft response are reviewed by the RPM in consultation with other members of the OPRC.
12. For complaints involving legal issues, the RPM consults with LEGPR.
13. All complaints and related documentation are captured in the Bank’s web-based complaints database in accordance with the Complaints User Manual. The RPM’s clearance is required before closing complaints in this complaints database.
14. If a bidder or a consultant is not satisfied with the way in which a borrower handled its complaint, including through a debriefing meeting, the bidder/consultant may seek a meeting with the Bank by writing to the RPM, who will arrange a meeting at the appropriate level and with the relevant staff. During the Bank’s review of the complaint, Executive Directors concerned by the case may only be informed of the broad lines of the dispute and the considerations which must guide the Bank’s decision, and are notified of such decision only after it has been transmitted to the borrower.
15. When handling complaints, Bank staff do not:
(a) discuss the complaint with the complainant, including by communicating any opinion or providing any details on the evaluation, while the complaint resolution process is under way;
(b) disclose to the complainant any correspondence between the Bank and the borrower or documents related to the evaluation process;
(c) become party to discussions about the complaint between the borrower and the complainant;
(d) issue a no objection to an award recommendation before any outstanding complaints are addressed to the full satisfaction of the Bank and clearance of the RPM has been obtained; or
(e) reply to the complaint during the evaluation process (except to acknowledge receipt), until the borrower has notified the winning bidder or consultant of the award of contract.