According to a Public Access Counselor's opinion dated April 16, 2015, the CVS Caremark contract with Porter County that contained financial information and trade secrets deemed non-disclosable under state law and the county had a right to agree to share a copy of the contract only if Biggs signed a written agreement not to disclose any information deemed non-disclosable under state law. Seriously? Here's what the opinion says:
Caremark is correct Ind. Code §§ 5-14-3-4(a)(4) and (5) does provide financial information and trade secrets are nondisclosable. The question does not appear to be one of substantive trade secret or confidential financial information. The operative issues seems to be whether the Board can force a member of the Council to sign a confidentiality agreement before disclosing sensitive material in an inter-agency records release.
This Office does not oversee internal operations of local government apart from access issues. The exchange of information between a Board and Council of the same political subdivision is largely an internal matter. Concerns about the release of sensitive information may be moot, however, in light of Ind. Code § 5-14-3-6.5 which states A public agency which receives a confidential public record from another public agency shall maintain the confidentiality of the public record. Therefore it may be facially unnecessary, however, given the information does appear to be trade secrets, the Board may wish to ensure the efficacy of section 6.5 by having the other agency sign a confidentiality agreement. If anything, this may serve to maintain the integrity of the relationship between the Board and its vendor. While the attestation may be redundant, it is not prohibited.It looks like our state and local governments in Indiana are now using exemptions for trade secrets and confidential financial information the way the federal government marks anything it doesn't want the public to know about as matters pertaining to national security as shorthand for keeping the public in the dark. It's absolutely absurd that contracts between government agencies and outside third parties are now being shielded from public disclosure to the point the public cannot found out how much money the contract costs taxpayers or how much is being paid to a third party agent in connection with a health insurance contract.
The Northwest Indiana Times has more on this story here.