Massachusetts Public Records Act
The Massachusetts Public Records Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Massachusetts. It is located at Part I, Title X Chapter 66 of the Massachusetts General Laws.
The Massachusetts Open Meetings Act legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted.
To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see: Massachusetts FOIA procedures
- See also: Massachusetts transparency headlines
- High Costs Make Open Records Seem Closed 2010-11-24 09:18:28
- House speaker cites "legislative immunity" to keep papers secret 2009-08-04 12:58:59
- Brockton superintendent search meeting records are incomplete 2009-06-09 21:47:14
- Closed session on Rojas records blocked 2010-11-24 11:54:49
- State says Cambridge Public Schools can't charge $14K for public records 2009-06-05 14:55:15
- T&G goes to court in records case 2009-06-05 14:33:48
- Yoon says city records should be an open book 2010-11-24 11:39:34
- Less-than-public records 2009-06-05 14:53:13
- Patrick targets ethics lapses 2009-06-05 14:44:58
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Relevant legal cases
- See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA
Here is a list of lawsuits in Massachusetts. For more information go the page or go to Massachusetts sunshine lawsuits.
(The cases are listed alphabetically. To order them by year please click the icon to the right of the Year heading)
|Attorney General v. School Committee of Northampton||1978|
|Bello v. South Shore Hospital||1981|
|Bougas v. Chief of Police of Lexington||1976|
|Connelly v. School Committee of Hanover||1991|
|District Attorney for the Plymouth District v. Board of Selectmen of Middleborough||1985|
|Gerstein v. Superintendent Search Screening Committee||1989|
|Ghiglione v. School Committee of Southbridge||1978|
|Globe Newspaper Co. v. Boston Retirement Board||1983|
|Hastings & Sons Publishing Co. v. City Treasurer of Lynn||1978|
|Pearson v. Board of Health of Chicopee||1988|
|Pottle v. School Committee of Braintree||1985|
|Yaro v. Board of Appeals of Newburyport||1980|
We do not currently have any legislation for Massachusetts in 2011. To add some, please see WikiProject Proposed state sunshine legislation.
Here are a list of 30 random bills from Massachusetts from 2010. For a full list, please see Massachusetts transparency legislation.
We have no current bill pages for Massachusetts from 2010. This may be due to incomplete research. To add pages, please view ourproject page, WikiProject Proposed state sunshine legislation.
Massachusetts's transparency report card
A 2008 study, BGA - Alper Integrity Index, conducted by the Better Government Association and sponsored by Alper Services, ranked Massachusetts #20 in the nation with an overall percentage of 54.30%. 
A 2007 study, Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests, conducted by BGA and the NFOIC, gave Massachusetts 31 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of "F", and a ranking of 43 out of the 50 states.
Features of the law
- Compare States: Sunshine variations: Click on the heading to compare your state's law to other state's transparency laws.
The Massachusetts law does not contain a clearly defined declared legal intention.
Public records are defined as, "all books, papers, maps, photographs, recorded tapes, financial statements, statistical tabulations, or other documentary materials or data, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by any officer or employee of any agency" 
- Personal contact information of individuals who own firearms, law enforcement, youth services, social services and department of corrections personnel and victims of crimes 
- Records that are required to be exempted in order to maintain the proper functioning of government (4-7-26-B)
- Medical files and other files that would result in an invasion of privacy (4-7-26-C)
- Memorandum relating to policies being developed (4-7-26-D)
- Law enforcement investigations (4-7-26-F)
- Trade secrets (4-7-26-G)
- Appraisals for potential property purchases (4-7-26-I)
- Examinations (4-7-26-L)
- Hospital Contracts (4-7-26-M)
- Records that would jeopardize security (4-7-26-N)
- Home contact information of all state employees and their families (4-7-26-O, P)
- Adoption information (4-7-26-Q)
State agencies are defined as any "agency, executive office, department, board, commission, bureau, division or authority of the commonwealth, or of any political subdivision thereof, or of any authority established by the general court to serve a public purpose". While the first portion of the definition pertains to only the executive, the latter may be extended to include all governing bodies.
The Massachusetts General Court is explicitly exempt from the Massachusetts Public Records Act under Mass. General Laws Title X, Chapter 66, Section 18.
The Massachusetts law does not contain any provisions that clearly bring private entities within the scope of the open records law. However, Bello v. South Shore Hospital established a potential test considering the private entities funding, function and if a public body controls or manages the private entity. While none of these factors are required, the test considers them all to establish the possibility that the private entity is in fact a public body.
Status: Presumed Open Popular Exemptions Research Donors Examinations Course Materials 
The definition of public body presumably includes public universities within the state. However, testing and exam material are explicitly exempted at Mass. General Laws 4-7-26-L.
No statement of purpose is required when requesting records.
No restrictions are placed on the use of records.
- 10 days
Massachusetts' law allows 10 days for record responses. 
Fees for records
Reasonable fees for records may include the actual cost of duplication. 
Reasonable fees for records may be charged to cover the actual cost of records searches.
The Supervisor of Public Records, authorized under Chapter 66 § 10(b) of the state's General Laws, "may notify the attorney general or the appropriate district attorney thereof who may take whatever measures he deems necessary to insure compliance with the provisions of this section."  The State Attorney General decides on a case-by-case basis as to whether or not to take up court action in order to ensure compliance with the law. The Attorney General, however, is not authorizes to request specific oversight of a public records request.
"All meetings of a governmental body shall be open to the public and any person shall be permitted to attend any meeting"
- Massachusetts FOIA procedures
- Massachusetts transparency headlines
- Massachusetts transparency advocates
- Massachusetts transparency legislation
- Private agency, public dollars-Massachusetts
- Massachusetts Open Meetings Act
- General Laws of Massachusetts Public Records
- General Laws of Massachusetts Open Meetings
- Open Government Guide to Massachusetts
- Past articles on Massachusetts
- ↑ 2008 BGA-Alper Integrity Index
- ↑ States Failing FOI Responsiveness, National Freedom of Information Coalition, October 2007
- ↑ Freedom of Information in the USA, 2002
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Massachusets Statute 4-7
- ↑ Massachusets Statute 66-10
- ↑ Private agency, public dollars-Massachusetts
- ↑ Mass. General Laws 4-7-26-L
- ↑ General Laws of Massachusetts, 66-10(a)
- ↑ Massachusets Code 66-10
- ↑ Massachusets Code 66-10
- ↑ Massachusets Code 66-10
- ↑ Massachusetts G.L. c. 66, § 10(b)
- ↑ General Laws of Massachusetts Chapter 39: Section 23B. Open meetings of governmental bodies
State of Massachusetts
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