Monday, June 23, 2008, 6/23/2008 09:39:00 AM

Trade Secrets and the Public Sector

By Todd
The San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that Kaiser Permanente and San Diego's Palomar Pomerado Health District are objecting to the requested disclosure of terms of a contract between the private company and the public hospital district that is funded, in part, by property tax receipts. We are starting to see more of these public/private business arrangements in which there is a conflict between the public's right to know and the private business's right not to disclose. The piece notes:

"Not being released are the particular portions of the contract that would disadvantage PPH in its regular negotiations with other health care organizations, jeopardize its ability to obtain similar contracts in the future, or which would provide an advantage to the many private health care competitors of PPH,” the letter says.

The letter, written by assistant general counsel Katherine Philbin, also says the district is “entitled to withhold the entirety of the contract” under state code but has decided to release it with redactions.

When asked to explain various redactions, such as the number of beds the district has promised Kaiser, general counsel Janine Sarti responded in an e-mail. Most of Sarti's responses are two words: “trade secret.”

Sarti only would say that the contract “provides for the use of all bed types as needed” to Kaiser. District officials declined to talk about why the number of beds or how much Kaiser will pay for them constitute trade secrets."

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