TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Paper for a technical proposal From:"Donald T. Robertson" <drobertson -at- NM-US -dot- CAMPUS -dot- MCI -dot- NET> Date:Thu, 10 Apr 1997 21:24:38 -0500
[lurk mode off]
Stephen Victor wrote:
>What concerns me about [Alethea Otero's] post (and this is not a flame) is
>possible violation of confidentiality in sharing details of the proposal
>with this list. Seeing phrases like "counter terrorism research,"
>"Office of Special Technologies (government agency)," and "Defense
>Special Weapons Agency" makes me think the project you're working on is
>rather sensitive. Would your clients want this information made public?
Steve, I wouldn't say you're "out of line", but Requests for Proposals
(RFPs) issued by the government are public documents, and it's not uncommon
to see phrases or wording that might be deemed sensitive. Actually, the
phrases you quoted above don't seem sensitive to me at all. My guess is
that they were necessary to convey to potential respondents the research
needs of OST and DSWA. (I am assuming here that the proposal is a response
to an RFP.)
The kinds of sensitive information I would be worried about sharing would
be details like the research techniques to be used, intelligence
information gathered on terrorist groups, weapons and tactics,
psychological warfare techniques, counter terrorism group deployments and
missions, ANY classified information obtained from the CIA, DOD, FBI, etc.
In other words, nitty gritty-type stuff.
I think from a confidentiality standpoint, it's more important to pay
attention to what's put into the proposal. Confidential, classified, or
proprietary information should be protected--ALWAYS. In our proposals (I
work for a Dept. of Energy contractor), we place a statement (paragraph,
actually) on the title page saying that we claim certain information inside
as "confidential proprietary information" and mark each page of sensitive
information with a stamp claiming confidentiality and referring the reader
back to the title page. (The Dept. of Defense had a great notification
statement, too.) I've been known to also set the confidential information
in italics so it looks different from publicly available stuff.
Anyway, you are correct in being concerned; certainly no one will fault you