4 CFR § 21.4 - Protective orders.
(a) At the request of a party or on its own initiative, GAO may issue a protective order controlling the treatment of protected information. Such information may include proprietary, confidential, or source-selection-sensitive material, as well as other information the release of which could result in a competitive advantage to one or more firms. The protective order shall establish procedures for application for access to protected information, identification and safeguarding of that information, and submission of redacted copies of documents omitting protected information. Because a protective order serves to facilitate the pursuit of a protest by a protester through counsel, it is the responsibility of protester's counsel to request that a protective order be issued and to submit timely applications for admission to that order. GAO generally does not issue a protective order where an intervenor retains counsel, but the protester does not.
(b) Any agency or party filing a document that the agency or party believes to contain protected material shall, if requested by another party, provide to the other parties (unless they are not admitted to the protective order) an initial proposed redacted version of the document within 2 days of the request. Where appropriate, the exhibits to the agency report or other documents may be proposed for redaction in their entirety. The party that authored the document shall file the final redacted version of the document that has been agreed to by all of the parties. Only the final agreed-to version of a redacted document must be filed. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement regarding redactions, the objecting party may submit the matter to GAO for resolution. Until GAO resolves the matter, the disputed information must be treated as protected.
(c) If no protective order has been issued, or a protester or intervenor does not have counsel admitted to a protective order, the agency may withhold from the parties those portions of its report that would ordinarily be subject to a protective order, provided that the requirements of § 21.3(e) are met. GAO will review in camera all information not released to the parties.
(d) After a protective order has been issued, counsel or consultants retained by counsel appearing on behalf of a party may apply for admission under the order by filing an application. The application shall establish that the applicant is not involved in competitive decision-making for any firm that could gain a competitive advantage from access to the protected information and that there will be no significant risk of inadvertent disclosure of protected information. Objections to an applicant's admission shall be filed within 2 days after the application is filed, although GAO may consider objections filed after that time.
(e) Any violation of the terms of a protective order may result in the imposition of such sanctions as GAO deems appropriate, including referral to appropriate bar associations or other disciplinary bodies, restricting the individual's practice before GAO, prohibition from participation in the remainder of the protest, or dismissal of the protest.