Massachusetts FOIA Laws

Massachusetts Open Meetings Law

The Massachusetts Open Meetings Act legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. A meeting is any gathering of a quorum of member of a public body for the purposes of deliberating and deciding on public matters with the exception of on site inspections of facilities or chance or social meetings at which no final decision are made. Three or more citizens, the attorney general, or the district attorney may file suit in an alleged violation of the open meetings act. If a complaint is filed within 21 days, a judge may void any action taken in an illegal meeting. Courts may also release records and issue injunctions preventing future violations of the law.

Open Meetings Law  G.L. c. 30A, §§18-25

Closed: Certain personnel matters; discussion of individual characteristics; collective bargaining; real estate negotiations; and disciplinary records.

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. 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.

Anyone can request public records and no statement of purpose is required. Also, the Massachusetts Public Records Act places no restrictions on the use of records. Massachusetts’ law allows 10 days for record responses.

Open Records Law G. L. c. 4, § 7(26)

Exempt: Information that would invade individual privacy; trade secrets; public policy development memos; and investigative materials.

Visit, Massachusetts Sample FOIA Request, to view a sample FOIA request for the state.