Efforts to increase transparency in federal contracting are well underway. But it’s still not clear exactly how much contractor information will be made public under the new rules, or how they will be interpreted in light of existing laws. We know that FAPIIS is now online and accessible to the public, for example, but that
"Freedom of Information Act"
Corporations can’t cite “personal privacy” to avoid public disclosure under FOIA
The Supreme Court’s 8-0 decision in Federal Communications Commission v. AT&T, Inc., No. 09-1279 (Mar. 1, 2011) [pdf], closes the door on corporate use of the personal privacy provision in FOIA Exemption 7(C).…
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FOIA trade secrets exemption unavailable for 75-year-old aircraft design
It’s a common assumption in litigation under the Freedom of Information Act that trade secrets lose value with the passage of time. The January 19, 2011 decision in Taylor v. Babbitt, No 03-0173-RMU (D.D.C. Jan. 19, 2011), shows there’s much more to the story. The case involved a 2002 FOIA request seeking “plans, blueprints, specifications, engineering drawings and data” submitted to the government in 1935 in support of a type certificate application for the Fairchild F-45. After a harrowing ride through the court system, including a trip to the Supreme Court, United States District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ordered the government to produce the 75-year-old documents.
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Will public availability of FAPIIS mean 300 million inspectors general?
One response to the shortage of experienced federal contracting personnel and qualified DCAA auditors is to turn the job over to the public at large. That seems to be the plan when it comes to the new federal contractor transparency initiatives, the most recent of which is the rule that will make the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) available to the public after April 15, 2011. Like the business model adopted by Wikileaks, the concept appears be that posting selected contractor performance data on the internet will be like hiring 300 million inspectors general. As with many government initiatives, the results are likely to cost more and achieve less than anticipated.
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