Blacklisting and the question of bias in contracting

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DOHA — There’s an article on the Guardian wire service about blacklisting at Crossrail.  Have a read.

It’s shocking really. It’s a throwback to practices that we associate with a paranoid America 70 years ago, or the Soviet Union.

I found one of the hardest bits, near the end: a fellow who was proven to have been “unlawfully refused work” got minimal compensation.

What are the issues associated with how ‘contracting’ decisions are made.

One would have thought it was clear: best service (or product) at the best price.

Does that sound right?

It seems to.  But we know there are many more ways of slicing it.

• For example, which wins?  Price of quality of service?  Who decides where the balance is?

• Who sets the criteria for what is “best service”?

• Who writes the application questions and interprets the answers?

• Who is invited to apply in the first place?

• Is there a bias towards certain applicants? For example, those with more experience?  Better references? More charming styles? Better connection?

• What in-built biases do we have? Do we have preferences based on culture, language, geography, etc.?

It’s a messy thing contracting.  Without even getting to blacklists.

/df



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