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State Says Pittsburgh Must Make Amazon HQ2 Bid Public, Officials Don't Want To

Amazon HQ2 secrets

The Pennsylvania Office of Open Records has ordered Pittsburgh officials to make public the city's Amazon HQ2 proposal, along with email related to it, within a month. The city and county officials, working as PGHQ2, do not want to do so, describing the documents as "proprietary information" and "trade secrets," and have vowed to appeal the order.

Pittsburgh made the cut early in January as one of the 20 places that Amazon says it is considering for a second HQ and all the jobs and economic stimulation that would come with it.

Separately, but not specifically about Pittsburgh, Amazon recently requested that the 20 cities on the final list not disclose the details of their bids — at least those that have not already done so.

The Office of Open Records issued its decision in response to WTAE-TV reporter Paul Van Osdol, who had filed with the agency to obtain a copy of the proposal.

"Although the city and Allegheny County maintain that the proposal has economic value, and disclosure of the proposal would allow other jurisdictions to appropriate that economic value, the proposal is not covered by the trade secrets exemption," Office of Open Records Appeals Officer Kyle Applegate wrote. 

"Neither the city nor county has pointed to any support for the proposition that a government agency may have a trade secret when not engaging in business in commerce."

PGHQ2 released a statement shortly after the ruling asserting that the group believes it is in the best interests of Pittsburgh to file an appeal of the decision.

"This is not about special treatment for Amazon, but about participating in a confidential nationwide process that is extremely competitive," PGHQ2 said. "To be clear, no action will be taken on any proposed public investment in this opportunity without a full, open, public and transparent process."