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Posted Date: September 21, 2011
Last Updated: October 19, 2011
When records responsive to a FOIA request contain business or commercial information provided to a government agency by a third party (or submitter), that private submitter has an opportunity to weigh in before an agency releases the information. A typical situation in which a private party would provide information to the government is when the government contracts with a private party to provide a service or product. Under Executive Order 12600, agencies are required to provide “submitter notice” to third-party submitters who have provided “confidential commercial or financial information” to the agency. That notice gives the third-party submitter the opportunity to object to any information the agency may intend to release in response to a request. The protection of this type of information encourages submitters to voluntarily furnish useful commercial or financial information to the government and provides the government with an assurance that required submissions are reliable. It also provides protection to submitters who are required to provide that type of information if release of the information could cause competitive harm to the submitter.
Each agency has its own procedures for notification; requesters should consult agency regulations for agency-specific information.