U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Sep 27, 2023

§ 15.108 - Business information.

(a) In general. Business information obtained by HUD from a submitter will be disclosed under the FOIA only under this section. In making final confidentiality determinations under this section, HUD relies to a large extent upon the information furnished by the affected business to substantiate its claim of confidentiality. HUD may be unable to verify the accuracy of much of the information submitted by the affected business. HUD will comply with Executive Order 12600 and follow the procedure in this section by giving notice to the affected business and an opportunity for the business to present evidence of its confidentiality claim. If HUD is sued by a requester under the FOIA for nondisclosure of confidential business information, HUD expects the affected business to cooperate to the fullest extent possible in defending such a decision.

(b) Designation of business information. A submitter of business information will 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 10 years after the date of the submission unless the submitter requests, and provides justification for, a longer designation period.

(c) Notice to submitters. HUD will provide a submitter with prompt written notice of a FOIA request or administrative appeal that seeks business information, wherever required under paragraph (d) of this section, in order to give the submitter an opportunity to object to disclosure of any specified portion of that information under paragraph (e) of this section. The notice will either describe the business information requested or include copies of the requested records or portions of records containing the information. When notification of a voluminous number of submitters is required, notification may be made by posting or publishing the notice in a place reasonably likely to accomplish notification.

(d) 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) HUD has reason to believe that the information may be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4.

(e) Opportunity to object to disclosure. HUD will allow a submitter a reasonable time to respond to the notice described in paragraph (c) of this section and will specify that time period within the notice. If a submitter has any objection to disclosure, the submitter should submit a detailed written statement specifying the grounds for withholding any portion of the information under any exemption of the FOIA and, in the case of Exemption 4, the submitter should show why the information is a trade secret or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential. HUD generally will not consider conclusory statements that particular information would be useful to competitors or would impair sales, or other similar statements, sufficient to justify confidential treatment. In the event that a submitter fails to respond to the notice within the time specified, the submitter will be considered to have no objection to the disclosure of the information. Information provided by the submitter that is not received until after the disclosure decision has been made will not be considered by HUD. Information provided by a submitter under this paragraph may itself be subject to disclosure under the FOIA.

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

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

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

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

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

(1) HUD determines that the information should not be disclosed;

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

(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.

(h) Notice of a FOIA lawsuit. Whenever a requester files a lawsuit seeking to compel the disclosure of business information, HUD will promptly notify the submitter.

(i) Corresponding notice to requesters. Whenever HUD provides a submitter with notice and an opportunity to object to disclosure under paragraph (f) of this section, HUD will also notify the requester(s). Whenever a submitter files a lawsuit seeking to prevent the disclosure of business information, HUD will notify the requester(s).