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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Bad Idea Watch: Secret State Grants in Iowa?

The secrecy surrounding economic development is a theme today. In Iowa, some fear that transparency will keep some companies from applying for state grants. I say let 'em sit it out, then. If they can't come clean with the public, they certainly don't need taxpayer money.

Lawmakers are considering a proposal to allow companies that apply for state economic grants to keep larger portions of their information secret.

Some opponents fear the move would allow projects such as a nuclear power plant to gain state grant money before the public learns of the plan.

Supporters say the state needs to keep more business information confidential to prevent competitors from scooping potentially revolutionary ideas as their own...

Iowa in the past year launched the $100 million Power Fund program, which will allocate millions of dollars to programs aimed at boosting renewable fuel research and production. Some companies have expressed hesitation to apply for such grants because of Iowa's records policies, said Mike Tramontina, director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development.

House File 2558 allows Tramontina's department to establish policies to allow some information in grant applications to remain secret if requested by the applicant. Such information could include marketing strategies, business expansion plans, concepts that are not yet patented and plans to target certain customers. The idea has passed the House, as well as the Senate Economic Growth Committee. It is now eligible for debate by the full Senate.

More here.

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