What is Project Disclosure?

Mary McMahon

Project disclosure is the release of information about a project in accordance with regional or national laws. This is designed to allow members of the general public to acquaint themselves with the nature of the project. This public information may be important to people who want to oppose the project or who have concerns about how the project will be carried out. Usually, the information must be filed with a government agency and is available to members of the public by request, with some agencies posting it online to make it easy to find.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

Disclosure regulations vary by nation and also by the nature of the project. In a simple example, people who plan to build a structure are usually required to apply for a building permit and post the permit on the land to make people aware of the fact that a project is being planned. The permit includes contact information for members of the planning commission and also notes when a hearing will be held, giving people a chance to come to the hearing and provide input.

Project disclosure can include requirements that people discuss the purpose of a project, how it will be carried out, and who will be performing the work. People can be ordered to show that a bidding process was used to contract out the work, giving people an opportunity to participate in the project by bidding on it, and may be required to file environmental impact reports and other supporting documents demonstrating that they have researched the potential impacts of the project on the community.

If there are special circumstances, limitations may be put on project disclosure. Companies preparing to build structures for use by intelligence agencies, for example, may not have to disclose building plans because they could contain sensitive information. Likewise, people can apply for dispensations allowing them to skirt some specific rules and regulations pertaining to projects in their regions.

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Disclosure laws also set out penalties for people who commit fraud during project disclosure by doing things like failing to disclose certain aspects of a project, falsifying documentation, and so forth. Penalties can include fines and jail time, as members of the public may be misled by fraudulent project disclosure and fail to lodge objections or appear at hearings to learn more if they don't understand the nature of a project. As a result, they could miss an opportunity to oppose a project they dislike, or to request changes to a project to better serve the interests of the community.

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