View all text of Part 612 [§ 612.1 - § 612.11]

§ 612.8 - Business information.

(a) In general. Business information obtained by the Foundation from a submitter of that information will be disclosed under the FOIA only under this section's procedures.

(b) Definitions. For purposes of this section:

(1) Business Information means commercial or financial information obtained by the Foundation from a submitter that may be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4 of the FOIA and § 612.7(a)(4).

(2) Submitter means any person or entity from whom the Foundation obtains business information, directly or indirectly. The term includes corporations; state, local, and tribal governments; and foreign governments.

(c) Designation of business information. A submitter of business information must use good faith efforts to designate, by appropriate markings, either at the time of submission or at a reasonable time thereafter, any portions of its submission that it considers to be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4. These designations will expire ten years after the date of the submission unless the submitter requests, and provides justification for, a longer designation period.

(d) Notice to submitters. The Foundation will provide a submitter with prompt written notice of a FOIA request or administrative appeal that seeks its business information wherever required under this section, in order to give the submitter an opportunity to object to disclosure of any specified portion of that information under paragraph (f) of this section. The notice shall either describe the business information requested or include copies of the requested records or record portions containing the information.

(e) Where notice is required. Notice will be given to a submitter wherever:

(1) The information has been designated in good faith by the submitter as information considered protected from disclosure under Exemption 4; or

(2) The Foundation has reason to believe that the information may be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4.

(f) Opportunity to object to disclosure. NSF will allow a submitter a reasonable time, consistent with statutory requirements, to respond to the notice described in paragraph (d) of this section. If a submitter has any objection to disclosure, it must submit a detailed written statement. The statement must specify all grounds for withholding any portion of the information under any exemption of the FOIA and, in the case of Exemption 4, must show why the information is a trade secret, or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential. In the event that a submitter fails to respond within the time specified in the notice, the submitter will be considered to have no objection to disclosure of the information. Information provided by a submitter under this paragraph may itself be a record subject to disclosure under the FOIA.

(g) Notice of intent to disclose. The Foundation will consider a submitter's objections and specific grounds for nondisclosure in deciding whether to disclose business information. Whenever it decides to disclose business information over the objection of a submitter, the Foundation will give the submitter written notice, which will include:

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

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

(3) A specified disclosure date, which will be a reasonable time subsequent to the notice.

(h) Exceptions to notice requirements. The notice requirements of paragraphs (d) and (g) of this section will not apply if:

(1) The Foundation determines that the information should not be disclosed (the Foundation protects from disclosure to third parties information about specific unfunded applications, including pending, withdrawn, or declined proposals);

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

(3) Disclosure of the information is required by statute (other than the FOIA) or by a regulation issued in accordance with the requirements of Executive Order 12600 (3 CFR, 1988 Comp., p. 235); or

(4) The designation made by the submitter under paragraph (c) of this section appears obviously frivolous, in which case the Foundation will, within a reasonable time prior to a specified disclosure date, give the submitter written notice of any final decision to disclose the information.

(i) Notice of FOIA lawsuit. Whenever a requester files a lawsuit seeking to compel the disclosure of business information, the Foundation will promptly notify the submitter(s). Whenever a submitter files a lawsuit seeking to prevent the disclosure of business information, the Foundation will notify the requester(s).