Janowski v. Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Economic
Requested records were exempt from the mandatory disclosure provisions of the Freedom of Information Act as trade secrets under C.G.S. §1-210(b)(5) as they contained information including patterns, compilations, methods, techniques and processes which derive independent economic value from not being generally known and such information is not readily ascertainable by proper means by persons who could obtain economic value from its disclosure. Zachary Janowski and the Yankee Institute for Public Policy appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission alleging that the state Department of Economic and Community Development and its commissioner violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to disclose requested records. The records pertained to the outputs generated based upon certain inputs into a computer program, the Regional Economic Models, Inc., used to analyze an agreement between the department and CIGNA Health and Life Insurance Company. The respondents claimed that the records were exempt as trade secrets. The FOIC found that the department entered into an agreement with CIGNA for a $50 and $80 million grant which required CIGNA to retain and create certain jobs in Connecticut and relocate its corporate headquarters here. The FOIC found that the respondents utilized the computer program, a mathematical model of the Connecticut economy, to analyze scenarios to ensure that Connecticut will receive more in taxes than it pays in incentives. Other states competing with Connecticut for companies use the program. Following testimony and an in camera review of the records, the FOIC found that, by reverse engineering more than one set of outputs, consultants and other states would gain a clear picture of Connecticut's economic development practices and business plan. With this information, consultants could get better deals for clients and other states would compete more effectively with Connecticut. This conclusion underscored the independent economic value of the outputs for a given agreement. The FOIC concluded that the records contained information which derived independent economic value from not being generally known. Such information was not readily ascertainable by proper means by persons who could obtain economic value from its disclosure and reasonable effects were made to maintain its secrecy. The requested records were exempt as trade secrets under C.G.S. §1-210(b)(5)(A). The complaint was dismissed.