Non-disclosure agreements are shielding elected officials from accountability.

Ban Secret Deals is a coalition of national and state-based policy and advocacy groups from across the political spectrum calling for state-level bans against the use of non-disclosure agreements in economic development deals.

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What’s the issue?

Across the U.S., state and local officials make deals in which individual companies receive taxpayer dollars in exchange for certain actions, such as locating a facility in a particular place. Many of these deals involve non-disclosure agreements, which restrict public officials from discussing the terms of the agreement publicly.

What’s the harm?

By preventing input from community members, small business owners, or other concerned parties, non-disclosure agreements help facilitate unfair economic development deals, and prevent voters from being able to hold elected officials and companies accountable for how they use public resources.

Providing taxpayer funds to individual companies is a failed economic development strategy: Communities do not see the promised job or income growth. It also disadvantages local businesses that are trying to compete with the larger, national firms that receive the bulk of state and local subsidies. It also fosters corruption, as politically connected businesses receive more funds due to their ability to lobby, not the superiority of their products or services.

By preventing input from community members, small business owners, or other concerned parties, non-disclosure agreements help facilitate unfair economic development deals.

Who signs them?

Governors, mayors, city council members, county-level elected officials, and employees of local economic development boards and agencies have all admitted to signing non-disclosure agreements with specific corporations. And those are just the ones we know about.

What’s the solution?

It’s very simple: State governments can ban the use of non-disclosure agreements in economic development deals. Bills to do so have been introduced in New York, Illinois, Florida and Michigan for the 2022 legislative session. We urge every state legislature to take this critically important step to bring transparency and accountability to their economic development programs.

Sign our petition.

Across the U.S., state and local officials make deals in which individual companies receive taxpayer dollars in exchange for certain actions, such as locating a facility in a particular place. Many of these deals involve non-disclosure agreements, which restrict public officials from discussing the terms of the agreement publicly.

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