Business information; procedures for predisclosure notification to submitters.
(a) In general. This section provides a procedure by which persons submitting business information to the Postal Service can request that the information not be disclosed pursuant to a request under the Freedom of Information Act. This section does not affect the Postal Service's right, authority, or obligation to disclose information in any other context, nor is it intended to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by a party against the Postal Service, its officers, or any person. Existing rights of submitters are also unaffected. For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:
(1) Business information means commercial or financial information provided directly or indirectly to the Postal Service by a submitter that arguably is protected from disclosure under Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4), which is restated in § 265.6(b)(2).
(2) Submitter means any person or entity who provides business information, directly or indirectly, to the Postal Service. The term includes, but is not limited to, corporations, state governments, and foreign governments.
(b) Notice to submitters.(1) The custodian shall, to the extent permitted by law, provide a submitter with prompt written notice of a Freedom of Information Act request for the submitter's business information whenever required under paragraph (c) of this section, except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, in order to afford the submitter an opportunity to object to disclosure pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section. Such written notice shall either describe the exact nature of the business information requested or provide copies of the records or portions of records containing the business information. In the case of an administrative appeal, the General Counsel shall be responsible for providing such notification as may be appropriate under this section.
(2) When notice is given to a submitter under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, the requester also shall be notified that notice and an opportunity to object are being provided to the submitter pursuant to this section.
(c) When notice is required. Notice shall be given to a submitter whenever:
(1) The submitter has in good faith designated the information as information deemed protected from disclosure under Exemption 4, in accordance with the procedure described in paragraph (e) of this section; or
(2) In the opinion of the custodian, or of the General Counsel in the case of an administrative appeal, it is likely that disclosure of the information would result in competitive harm to the submitter.
(d) Exceptions to notice requirements. The notice requirements of paragraph (b) of this section shall not apply if:
(1) The Postal Service determines without reference to the submitter that the information will not be disclosed;
(2) The information lawfully has been published or has been officially made available to the public;
(3) Disclosure of the information is required by law (other than the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552 ); or
(4) Disclosure of the particular kind of information is required by a Postal Service regulation, except that, in such case, advance written notice of a decision to disclose shall be provided to the submitter if the submitter had provided written justification for protection of the information under Exemption 4 at the time of submission or a reasonable time thereafter.
(e) Procedure for designating business information at the time of its submission.(1) Submitters of business information shall use good-faith efforts to designate, by appropriate markings, either at the time of submission or at a reasonable time thereafter, those portions of their submissions which they deem to be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4. Each record, or portion thereof, to be so designated, shall be clearly marked with a suitable legend such as Privileged Business Information—Do Not Release. When the designated records contain some information for which an exemption is not claimed, the submitter shall clearly indicate the portions for which protection is sought.
(2) At the time a designation is made pursuant to paragraph (e)(1) of this section, the submitter shall furnish the Postal Service with the name, title, address and telephone number of the person or persons to be contacted for the purpose of the notification described in paragraph (b) of this section.
(3) Submitters who provide to a postal facility business information on a recurring basis and in substantially identical form may use the following simplified process: The first submission will provide in full the information required in paragraphs (e)(1) and (2) of this section; shall identify the type of information, e.g., PS Form 3602, to which it is intended to apply; and shall state that it is intended to serve as a designation for all of the information of this type that is submitted to the particular facility. Thereafter when providing this type of information, the submitter need only mark a submission with a reference to the designation, e.g., Privileged: see letter of 4-1-91. By written agreement with the head of the facility, even this marking may be dispensed with if it is not necessary to alert postal employees at that facility of the claim of exemption.
(4) A designation made pursuant to paragraph (e) of this section shall be deemed to have expired ten years after the date the records were submitted unless the submitter requests, and provides reasonable justification for, a designation period of greater duration.
(5) The Postal Service will not determine the validity of any request for confidential treatment until a request for disclosure of the information is received.
(f) Opportunity to object to disclosure. Through the notice described in paragraph (b) of this section, the submitter shall be afforded a reasonable period of time within which to provide the Postal Service with a detailed written statement of any objection to disclosure. Such statement shall specify all grounds for withholding any of the information under any exemption of the Freedom of Information Act and, in the case of Exemption 4, shall demonstrate why the information is contended to be a trade secret or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential. Whenever possible, the submitter's claim of confidentiality should be supported by a statement or certification by an officer or authorized representative of the submitter that the information in question is in fact confidential, has not been disclosed to the public by the submitter, and is not routinely available to the public from other sources. Information provided by a submitter pursuant to this paragraph may itself be subject to disclosure under the FOIA.
(g) Determination that confidential treatment is warranted. If the custodian determines that confidential treatment is warranted for any part of the requested records, he shall inform the requester in writing in accordance with the procedures set out in § 265.7(d) of this chapter, and shall advise the requester of the right to appeal. A copy of the letter of denial shall also be provided to the submitter of the records in any case in which the submitter had been notified of the request pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section.
(h) Notice of intent to disclose. The custodian, in the case of an initial request, or the General Counsel, in the case of an appeal, shall consider carefully a submitter's objections and specific grounds for nondisclosure prior to determining whether to disclose business information. In the event of a decision to disclose business information over the objection of the submitter, the submitter shall be furnished a written notice which shall include:
(1) A description of the business information to be disclosed;
(2) A statement of the reasons for which the submitter's disclosure objections were not sustained; and
(3) The specific date upon which disclosure will occur. Such notice of intent to disclose shall be forwarded to the submitter a reasonable number of days prior to the specified disclosure date and the requester shall be notified likewise.
(i) Notice of FOIA lawsuit. Whenever a requester brings suit seeking to compel disclosure of business information, the General Counsel shall promptly notify the submitter.
[56 FR 56934, Nov. 7, 1991]
Title 39 published on 2012-07-01
no entries appear in the Federal Register after this date.
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