SOURCE: American Small Business League

American Small Business League

December 20, 2016 06:49 ET

Pentagon Sikorsky 9th Circuit Case Weighs Privacy VS Transparency

ASBL Ninth Circuit Case Against Pentagon

PETALUMA, CA--(Marketwired - December 20, 2016) - The San Francisco 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the American Small Business League's (ASBL) Freedom Of Information Act Request (FOIA) case against the Pentagon on December 14, 2016. The hearing was held following the Pentagon's appeal to overturn the ruling that they disclose Sikorsky Aviation Corporation's most recent subcontracting plan submitted to the Pentagon's Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program (CSPTP).

The ASBL originally won their FOIA case against the Pentagon in November of 2014. Federal District Court Judge William Alsup in San Francisco ordered the Pentagon to release the Sikorsky data to the ASBL after reviewing the information and deducing nothing in the report constituted as trade secret, proprietary or confidential financial information.

The ASBL believes the CSPTP has allowed the Pentagon's largest prime contractors to circumvent small business subcontracting goals by eliminating all transparency and penalties for non-compliance. Professor Charles Tiefer, a leading expert on federal contracting law, has written a legal opinion agreeing with the ASBL, calling the CSPTP a "sham" and "seriously harmful" to small businesses.

In his ruling, Judge Alsup described the ASBL as being an underdog in a David and Goliath battle against the "big company" and against the "big government." He also accused the Pentagon of "covering it up" in reference to the information the ASBL requested. In a subsequent hearing, Judge Alsup accused the Pentagon and Sikorsky of trying to "suppress the evidence."

During the District Court case, Judge Alsup instructed the Pentagon and Sikorsky on two separate occasions to "highlight the parts that are supposedly confidential" or that they believed were proprietary and explain why they believed the information should be exempt. The Pentagon declined to comply with Judge Alsup's request.

Despite the fact that the Pentagon and Sikorsky never complied with Judge Alsup's order to make evidence available to establish the validity of their claims, Sikorsky continued to argue during the December 14th hearing that a detailed disclosure of their small business recruiting program and subcontracting reports would put them at a disadvantage to competitors.

Speaking to the Pentagon regarding their lack of cooperation with the Court, Judge Norman Randy Smith stated "You didn't try, you just sent what you wanted."

Regarding Sikorsky's position ASBL President Lloyd Chapman had this to say:

"Sikorsky's assertion that the public's right to know how trillions of tax dollars have been spent over the last 27 years is outweighed by concern that a competitor might use the details of their small business recruiting program is laughable."

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