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Labeling Proprietary Information

Disclosure of proprietary information in proposals is discouraged by the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and most other sponsors unless it is necessary to convey information that would be critical to the review of the proposal.

Department of Energy (DOE)

Solicitations will contain instructions for that program related to the use of proprietary information. The general direction for DOE is: “The data contained in pages _____ of this application have been submitted in confidence and contain trade secrets or proprietary information, and such data shall be used or disclosed only for evaluation purposes, provided that if this applicant receives an award as a result of or in connection with the submission of this application, DOE shall have the right to use or disclose the data herein to the extent provided in the award. This restriction does not limit the government’s right to use or disclose data obtained without restriction from any source, including the applicant.

To protect such data, each line or paragraph on pages containing proprietary information must be specifically identified and marked with: “The following contains proprietary information that (name of applicant) requests not be released to persons outside the Government, except for purposes of review and evaluation.”

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

If proprietary information is contained in the proposal, it should be identified by checking “Yes” on the “Other Project Information” page of the Grants.gov package (question #3). Also, each line or paragraph containing proprietary information should be marked with a statement such as: “The following contains proprietary/privileged information that (name of applicant) requests not be released to persons outside the Government, except for purposes of review and evaluation.” Alternatively, asterisks may be used with a preceding statement such as: “The following sections marked with an asterisk contain proprietary/privileged information that (name of Applicant) requests not be released to persons outside the Government, except for purposes of review and evaluation.

When proprietary information is contained in the application it is done so understanding the information has been provided in confidence and the information is to be used for evaluation of the application.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

If proprietary information is vital to the proposal, NSF requires the “Proprietary or Privileged Information” box to be marked on the Cover Sheet in Fastlane. Additionally, text in the project description must be clearly labeled using the following: “The following is (proprietary or confidential) information that (name of proposing organization) requests not be released to persons outside the Government, except for purposes of review and evaluation.

While NSF will make every effort to prevent unauthorized access to the marked material, it is not responsible or liable for the release of such material. Also, any funded proposal will be available to the public upon request, except for privileged information or material that is personal, proprietary, or otherwise exempt from disclosure under law. Appropriate labeling in the proposal aids identification of what may be specifically exempt.

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