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FOIA Principle 6: Streamline And Limit Confidential Business Information Claims

by | Jul 11, 2017 | FOIA Software Solutions | 0 comments

Many FOIA requesters have raised worries about excessively broad claims of confidential business information limiting access to important public information. Armedia’s FOIA Module is designed to help you avoid excessively broad claims or delayed responses to FOIA requests.

Streamline And Limit Confidential Business Information Claims

Require Submitter to Proactively Appoint Claimed Confidential Business Information

Having submitters appoint information as exempt can help to ensure that agencies do not unintentionally release exempt information. However, to be efficient, submitters must make their appointments in a timely fashion, and they need to narrowly target exemption appointments to information likely to be exempt.

Armedia’s ArkCase FOIA Module will ease your efforts to implement these exemption appointments, through suitable markings, either at the time of submitting or within 30 days after submission. Our Open Source software offers a solution for submitting and proactively appointing claimed confidential business information. With the new specialized FOIA module, all the procedures are easy to do through a point-and-click user interface.

Streamline Notification of Requests to Submitters

An agency notifies submitters when the agency receives a request for the classification of information that the submitter claims is confidential business information. While this process is reasonable and logical, these notifications take time and therefore should be only pursued if necessary.

Streamline Notification of Requests to Submitters

Agencies can establish that it is unnecessary to notify the submitters if the agency determines that:

  • The submitter has made an apparently frivolous claim of confidential business information;
  • The law requires disclosure of the information;
  • The information has already been published; or
  • The information should not be disclosed.

In those circumstances, Armedia’s FOIA Module will allow your agency to proceed without delaying the process. It is the perfect tool for streamlining notification of requests to submitters. We know you must make difficult decisions every day with imperfect information. That’s why We created Armedia to make it easier for you to perform your due diligence.

Require Quick Objections to Disclosure

FOIA requires agencies to respond to requests during 20 working days. To avoid delays in processing the request, agencies need to require submitters to quickly respond if they want to object to a disclosure.

For your organization, this means additional time-consuming procedures and costs. Armedia integrates the existing open source ArkCase platform and uses its proven software to reduce costs and simplify processes (allowing you to easy and quickly follow all FOIA requirements).

Require Confirmation for Claims of Confidential Business Information

Confirmation for Claims of Confidential Business Information

Under FOIA, the law requires agencies to release any requested information that is not covered under the law’s specific exemptions. Asking submitters to explain in detail their bases for objecting to the disclosure can help agencies promptly and efficiently determine whether requested information need to be withheld or released.

A submitter who wants to object to a disclosure must submit a detailed statement that specifies the basis for withholding the information under FOIA’s exemptions, with a specific reference to the submitted information. The Armedia FOIA Module supports configurations for each submitter.

Conclusion

Confidential business information claims must be narrowly explained to ensure reasonable limitation of exemption. This type of information is, in many instances, sensitive, proprietary data of organizations, and releasing that to the public will cause real damage to the owners of that information.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) requires companies with trade secrets concerns to object to disclosure of claimed confidential information immediately.

Armedia’s FOIA Module is ideal for streamlining and limiting confidential business information claims. With this extra step that is a part of the ArkCase workflow, organizations can have a say in what goes out to the public. It also helps government agencies to not become FOIA hostages and be enforced to release information that is critical corporate-owned data.

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