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Code of Federal Regulations Title 5. Administrative Personnel § 5.294.112 Confidential commercial information

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(a) In general, OPM will not disclose confidential commercial information in response to a Freedom of Information Act request except in accordance with this section.

(b) The following definitions from Executive Order 12600, apply to this section:

(1) Confidential commercial information means records provided to the Government by a submitter that arguably contain material exempt from release under Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4), because disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm.

(2) Submitter means any person or entity who provides confidential commercial information, directly or indirectly, to OPM. The term includes, but is not limited to, corporations, state governments, and foreign governments.

(c) Submitters of information shall designate by appropriate markings, either at the time of submission or at a reasonable time thereafter, any portions of their submissions that they consider to be confidential commercial information. Such designations shall expire 10 years after the date of submission unless the submitter requests, and provides reasonable justification for, a designation period of greater duration.

(d) OPM shall, to the extent permitted by law, provide prompt written notice to an information submitter of Freedom of Information requests or administrative appeals if:

(1) The submitter has made a good faith designation that the requested material is confidential commercial information, or

(2) OPM has reason to believe that the requested material may be confidential commercial information.

(e) The written notice required in paragraph (d) of this section shall either describe the confidential commercial material requested or include as an attachment, copies or pertinent portions of the records.

(f) Whenever OPM provides the notification and opportunity to object required by paragraphs (d) and (h) of this section, it will advise the requester that notice and an opportunity to object are being provided to the submitter.

(g) The notice requirements of paragraph (d) of this section shall not apply if:

(1) OPM determines that the information should not be disclosed;

(2) The information has been lawfully published or officially made available to the public;

(3) Disclosure of the information is required by law (other than 5 U.S.C. 552);

(4) The information was submitted on or after August 20, 1992, and has not been designated by the submitter as exempt from disclosure in accordance with paragraph (c) of this section, unless OPM has substantial reason to believe that disclosure of the information would result in competitive harm;  or

(5) The designation made by the submitter in accordance with paragraph (c) of this section appears obviously frivolous;  except that, in such a case, OPM shall, within a reasonable number of days prior to a specified disclosure date, notify the submitter in writing of any final administrative decision to disclose the information.

(h) The notice described in paragraph (d) of this section shall give a submitter a reasonable period from the date of the notice to provide OPM with a detailed written statement of any objection to disclosure. The statement shall specify all grounds for withholding any of the material under any exemption of the Freedom of Information Act. When Exemption 4 of the FOIA is cited as the grounds for withholding, the specification shall demonstrate the basis for any contention that the material is a trade secret or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential. It must also include a specification of any claim of competitive harm, including the degree of such harm, that would result from disclosure. Information provided in response to this paragraph may itself be subject to disclosure under the FOIA. Information provided in response to this paragraph shall also be subject to the designation requirements of paragraph (c) of this section. Failure to object in a timely manner shall be considered a statement of no objection by OPM, unless OPM extends the time for objection upon timely request from the submitter and for good cause shown. The provisions of this paragraph concerning opportunity to object shall not apply to notices of administrative appeals, when the submitter has been previously provided an opportunity to object at the time the request was initially considered.

(i) OPM shall consider carefully a submitter's objections and specific grounds for nondisclosure, when received within the period of time described in paragraph (h) of this section, prior to determining whether to disclose the information. Whenever OPM decides to disclose the information over the objection of a submitter, OPM shall forward to the submitter a written notice, which shall include:

(1) A statement of the reasons why the submitter's disclosure objections were not sustained;

(2) A description of the information to be disclosed;  and

(3) A specified disclosure date.

(j) OPM will notify both the submitter and the requester of its intent to disclose material a reasonable number of days prior to the specified disclosure date.

(k) Whenever a requester brings suit seeking to compel disclosure of confidential commercial information, OPM shall promptly notify the submitter.

Cite this article: - Code of Federal Regulations Title 5. Administrative Personnel § 5.294.112 Confidential commercial information - last updated October 03, 2022 |

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