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When and How to Check for Debarment/Suspension

U.S. export control laws prohibit Michigan State University (MSU) from doing business with an individual or company debarred by the Federal Government.  Anyone found working with a debarred individual or company (see example*) could be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  To assist in compliance with these laws, MSU uses a web-based tool called Visual Compliance to identify debarred individuals or companies.  The software performs denied party screening, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Sanctions screening, FBI watch list screening, and can identify issues when traveling to sanctioned and embargoed countries.

Who is Responsible for Checking Debarment/Suspension?

Proposal Stage: Early in the proposal planning stage, we recommend checking the names of consultants, subrecipient PI(s), other non-MSU key personnel, and subrecipient organizations that do not participate in the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) Expanded Clearinghouse Initiative (click here to find participating organizations:  This can be done either by providing the name(s) to your Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) proposal team or contact the Office of Export Control & Trade Sanctions (ECTS) to gain access to Visual Compliance.

Subaward Processing Stage: The OSP Subaward Team (ST) completes the Visual Compliance check when subaward documents are being reviewed.  The ST perform visual compliance checks for the subrecipient/subawardee and all individuals named in the subaward budgets.  ST does not check subrecipient organizations that participate in the FDP Expanded Clearinghouse Initiative-CGA will handle those when they process the subawards.

During the Life of a Project: The Contract & Grant Administration (CGA) completes the Visual Compliance check when applicable.  This includes changes to personnel and adding new subcontractors.

Visual Compliance Procedures for Individual and Company Screening

___ Log into the website:

___ Input either the name of an individual or company in the “INDIVIDUAL AND COMPANY SCREENING” section found on the RPS (Restricted Party Screening) tab. Individual and Company Screening form with fields for name, address, comments, search criteria choices, option to display a checklist for blocked foreign nationals, option to display a checklist of blocked entities and ability to display geographic location of provided IP address

___ Select the “Fuzzy” level radio button and Level “2” from the drop-down box.  This combination will bring back more results to compensate for spelling errors. Leave the “Field Specific” and “Remove business words” boxes checked.

___ Push the “SCREEN” button to see the search results. 

___ The system will show either “NO MATCHING RECORDS FOUND” or a list of matching records with a link to additional details.  The record will also include an Alert level where higher levels equal more matching information. Email the results to yourself for record keeping and share them with your OSP contact if within two weeks of the proposal submission. 

The CTs print to PDF and save in the file.   If follow up is needed, CTs will notify faculty and RA and request they obtain full names and addresses for the subrecipient project personnel and/or subrecipient and run visual compliance again.  If the person or company is a match on the list, CTs reach out to faculty and research administrator to discuss next steps (see Subaward Processing Stage below) Form options for emailing search results to yourself, addresses on a self-created list, with options to include your name and entity searched in the email

Example results for "Bob Wilson" Record search criteria containing the name Bob Wilson and a search type of fuzzy

What do I do in case of a match?

 ___ Do an “exact” search using the full name provided during the previous Fuzzy search. Exact search option selected and Fuzzy search criteria not selected

___ Check for indicators that you have the correct person or company (i.e. the address listed in the matches and full name matches).

Proposal Stage: ___ Contact your OSP proposal team if you need assistance in making a determination of whether you have a match.  Until a determination has been made, caution should be taken when including them in your proposal.

  • If the person or entity is found to be debarred or suspended, MSU’s Office of General Counsel will assist with the next steps to resolve any issues.  Actions may include exclusion from participating in the current proposal.

Subaward Processing Stage:  If a person or entity is found to be debarred or suspended,  the OSP ST notifies lead faculty and research administration that the subrecipient or person are debarred or suspended and can’t participate on project.  .  Until a determination has been made, the subaward/subcontract should not be signed.

During the Life of a Project:  If a person or entity is found to be debarred or suspended, Contract and Grant Administration will work with MSU’s General Counsel to assist with the next steps to resolve any issues.  Actions may include filing a disclosure of a violation to an applicable agency, removing the individual/entity from the project.  Until a determination has been made, no payments should be made to the debarred or suspended individual or entity.

If you have any questions, please contact your OSP, CGA or MSU Export Control contact:

*Example: John Reece Roth, a prominent plasma physicist, was sentenced in 2009 for four years for sharing drone plans with foreign students. In October 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court denied his petition for a review of the Sixth Circuit ruling. On January 18, 2012, he served his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Ashland, KY.

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