Sec. 606, Treatment of nondisclosable information, Open Government Amendment text

Open government = better government!

Sec. 606


Nondisclosable information handicaps and isolates citizens from the democratic process.

606.   Treatment of nondisclosable information


Records with both nondisclosable and disclosable information may have the disclosable portion released.

a.       For purposes of public access, if a record contains both disclosable and nondisclosable information, the nondisclosable information shall be deleted and the remaining record shall be disclosed unless the two are so inextricably intertwined that it is not feasible to separate them or release of the disclosable information would compromise or impinge upon the nondisclosable portion of the record.


The claim of proprietary information is often used by applicants to cloak and avoid the full scrutiny of the general public in public approval processes.  By requiring everything which is relevantly related to such nondisclosable information to be publicly identified, the public has more effective knowledge and officials are encouraged to rely more upon open sources of information.

b.       Where information is held to be nondisclosable and is submitted for use as part of a decision making process which is open to public oversight or participation, the submitter shall identify the specific parts that are nondisclosable.  The decision making body is responsible for final determination of the following, which shall be disclosed to the degree that it does not jeopardize national security or public safety or violate the nondisclosure and shall be made available online:

      1.       the existence of the information which is held to be nondisclosable; its title, owner, and preparer; the type, general character, and nature of the information; the specific reasons for nondisclosure, including the name(s) of any third party(ies) requesting, requiring, or otherwise responsible for the nondisclosure and their involvement or relationship to the information and/or to the other parties involved; and all information contained in it that is disclosable;

      2.       whether it was generated using accepted standards and practices; if so, which; if not, what method or process was used; if the specifics of the method are held to be nondisclosable, then such substantiation or verification as may exist of the efficacy of the method employed; if none, that there is none;

      3.   how the information is related to the decisionable matter;

      4.       how the information is normally used in other instances and how it is to be used or is being used for the decision process;

      5.       the specific findings which are based or are to be based upon it, either all or in part; how those findings are affected by the information and the degree to which they are;

      6.       the degree to which the nondisclosable information and the findings based upon it each play(ed) a role in the decision process and its outcome, including but not limited to whether in the critical path and is thus essential or whether providing supporting information or used to corroborate other information;

      7.       whether any parts of the nondisclosable information contradicted the findings or conclusion of its own report or the decision making body's findings or conclusion;

      8.       any information from open sources which corroborates, contradicts or challenges the nondisclosable information and/or any related findings;

      9.       the rationale for using the nondisclosable information instead of open sources.


Where there is any question about the veracity or accuracy of nondisclosable information, it needs to be verified or not considered, especially since members of the public are barred from seeing or reviewing the information and can only trust, sight unseen, that it may be OK.

c.       Where either facts, numbers, the process used to generate or determine them, or any other substantively involved or associated matter may be in dispute or there may be cause to question the credibility of them or their preparer or there may be substantive controversy surrounding the nondisclosable information for any other reason, the applicable decision making body shall request a release from the information's owner(s) enabling either public disclosure or independent verification of such part or parts as may be relevant to the concern(s); in the absence of such release, the nondisclosable information shall be disregarded as if it were not submitted, except that suspected fraud shall be referred to the appropriate authorities.


Verifications of submitted information need to be done with complete financial independence from those benefiting from the original and the public needs to know the results.

d.       An applicable decision making body may, with just cause, hire a third party which it selects as its agent to perform an independent verification of disclosable or nondisclosable information, provided the third party has no ties or connections with the parties involved in the matter being reviewed.  Such body may require an applicant to pay for the third party verification as a condition of a proposal or application's consideration.  If a third party verification is done, all information that is disclosable from its findings shall be made fully available to the public and placed online, and such information that is nondisclosable shall comply with Sec. 606(b).


Nondisclosable information needs to be kept secure and available for official use but needs to be released to the public if it becomes open.

e.       Nondisclosable information submitted to the City as part of any public decision making process shall be permanently retained by the City, which shall protect, catalog, and store it, maintaining adequate back up copies and keeping it immediately retrievable for use by the applicable decision making bodies or by a court of competent jurisdiction, and at any time as it may become disclosable, it shall be made fully available and placed online.