Still No PPIP Transparency from Treasury

Last month, The Treasury Department named nine managers for the PPIP, which is designed to help banks escape the toxic messes of their own making. It also said “over 100 unique applications… were received.”

It almost sounded like PPIP was so popular that Treasury had to beat off hopeful participants with a stick. To know for sure, though, we though it would be helpful to have a list of the rejected applicants. After all, what if my grandmother was one of them? I love her (and she is “unique”), but she’s not quite as qualified for PPIP as, say, The Carlyle Group would be.

Unfortunately, a Treasury Department spokesman declined to provide the list when I originally asked, so Thomson Reuters filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on July 10. We asked only for the names of the applicants, not for any associated financials.

We have since received a reply dated July 28 from Stephen A. Moffett, administrative officer for the Office of Financial Stability. It reads, in part:

A records search was conducted in the Office of Financial Stability and one document, totaling five pages, was located that is responsive to your request. After carefully reviewing the responsive documents, I have determined that five pages are appropriate for release to excisions made persuant to 5 U.F.C. 552(b)(4). Exemption 4 of the FOIA pertains to trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person that is privileged or confidential.

And now comes the part of peHUB when we laugh. The attached document, marked “sensitive but unclassified” contained only the names that had already been publicly disclosed. The rest were blacked out. Basically, they classified a document marked “unclassified.” Brilliant. “No sir, I’m not a book-burner. I only burn the pages.”

We did at least learn that there were 141 applicants (judging by the number of black marks), but are still no closer to gauging the PPIP’s actual popularity. We have 35 days to appeal, and will likely do so. In the meantime, here is the document we received (you can download it here):

Doc 070