Debarment and Suspension from Sponsored Projects

Policy number17-14
Responsible officeResearch
Enforcement officialVice President for Research
ClassificationBoard of Trustees-delegated Policy
Category17. Research and Intellectual Property

Statement of policy

Debarment and suspension are actions taken by the federal government against organizations or individuals who have committed fraud or a criminal offense in violation of federal law (see item 2 below). Western Michigan University must certify that employees who have been suspended, debarred or charged with criminal activity will not be allowed to apply for or administer federal funds on behalf of the University.

Summary of contents/major changes

This is a new policy.

1. Purpose of Policy

To set forth the means by which Western Michigan University (WMU) will comply with the certification requirements of the federal government.  Employees who have been suspended, debarred or charged with criminal activity will not be allowed to apply for or administer federal funds on behalf of the WMU.

Federal regulations require that formal applicants for grant and contract funds from the federal government certify that either the organization, its officers, or researchers presently debarred, suspended, proposed for debarment, declared ineligible, or voluntarily excluded from covered transactions (eligible to receive federal funds) by any federal department or agency.

2. Stakeholders Most Impacted by the Policy

The policy applies to all principals, senior administrative staff, researchers, and their professional colleagues who undertake research activities.  The principals are trustees and senior administrative staff. Researchers are Principal Investigators, Co-Principal Investigators, and other key employees conducting research.

3. Key Definitions

  • 3.1 Debarment—An exclusion from government contracting and subcontracting for a reasonable, specified period because an individual or vendor failed to perform or their performance was inadequate.
  • 3.2 Suspension—A disqualification from government contracting and subcontracting for a temporary period because a company or individual is suspected of engaging in criminal, fraudulent or seriously improper conduct. Suspension is to be used on an interim basis pending debarment proceedings.

4. Full Policy Details

Each time the University submits a proposal to the federal government, the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) is required to complete a certification stating the prospective primary participant and its principals are not debarred or suspended or proposed for debarment or suspension. Principal investigators (PIs) must truthfully respond to questions as part of their electronic Proposal Approval Form (PAF).

Any individual who meets any of the conditions on the PAF must immediately notify the Office of the Vice President for Research and is precluded from receiving federally funded grant or contract awards or from being paid with federal funds.

All individuals and entities suspended or debarred are listed on the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Excluded parties Listing System (EPLS). A search can be performed at

  • 4.1 Responsibilities
    • 4.1.1 WMU Principals/Senior Administrators—Certify annually that they have not been debarred or suspended.
    • 4.1.2 Principal Investigators:
      • Certify at time of proposal submission that they have not been debarred or suspended.
      • Notify the Office of the Vice President for Research of any change in their status during the application process and ensuing project period.
      • Agree that no key employee will be hired to work on their grant until they have been checked against the Excluded Parties Listing System.
    • 4.1.3 Employees on Sponsored Project Awards - Notify the Principal Investigator if they meet any of the conditions under Federal Regulations in the reference section of this policy.
    • 4.1.4 Office of the Vice President for Research
      • Ensure that principal investigators respond to the debarment and suspension questions in the electronic proposal submission routing questionnaire at time of submission.
      • At time of award, verify no grant employees included in the budget are listed on the Excluded Parties Listing System.

5. Accountability / Sanction for Non-Compliance

  • 5.1 WMU employees, who do not truthfully answer the debarment and suspension question, fail to report a debarment or suspension action while managing federal funds, or hire a debarred or suspended key employee may be prevented from participating in future sponsored research activities.
  • 5.2 Debarred or Suspended employees will be removed from any existing sponsored project awards.

6. Related Procedures and Guidelines

  • 6.1 PAF Web form embedded guidelines and use

Related Policies

  • WMU Policy 17-13, Policy on Eligibility to Serve as WMU Principal Investigators (PI) or co-PI on Sponsored Projects, dtd 11/10/2018


  • Executive Order 12549, Debarment and suspension, dtd 2/18/1986
  • Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 52.209-5, Certification Regarding Responsibility Matters, dtd 10/2018.


Effective date of current versionNovember 10, 2018
Date first adoptedNovember 10, 2018
Proposed date of next reviewNovember 1, 2020


Certified by

James F. Center, Research Safety Officer; Direction of: Terri Goss Kinzy

At the direction of

Vice President for Research