Complaint Process

What is the process for filing an Open Meeting Law complaint?

Individuals who allege a violation of the Open Meeting Law must first file a complaint with the public body alleged to have violated the OML. The complaint must be filed within 30 days of the date of the violation, or the date the complainant could reasonably have known of the violation. The complaint must be filed on a Complaint Form pdf format of OML Complaint Form available on the AGO website.

Upon receipt, the Chair of the public body should distribute copies of the complaint to the members of the public body. The public body has 14 business days from the date of receipt to review the complainant's allegations; take remedial action if appropriate; notify the complainant of the remedial action; and forward a copy of the complaint and description of the remedial action taken to the Attorney General's Office. The public body may request additional information from the complainant. The public body may also request an extension of time to respond to the complaint. A request for an extension should be made within 14 business days of receipt of the complaint by the public body. The request for an extension should be made in writing to the Division of Open Government and state the reason for the extension.

A complaint is ripe for review by the Attorney General's Office 30 days after the complaint is filed with the public body. This 30-day period is intended to provide a reasonable opportunity for the complainant and the public body to resolve the initial complaint. It is important to note that complaints are not automatically filed with the Attorney General's Office upon filing with the public body. A complainant seeking further review of the complaint by the Division of Open Government must file the complaint with the Attorney General. When filing the complaint with the Attorney General, the complainant must include a copy of the original complaint and may include any other materials the complainant feels are relevant, including an explanation of why the complainant is not satisfied with the remedial action taken by the public body.

The Attorney General's Office will review the complaint and the remedial action taken by the public body. The Attorney General's Office may request additional information from both the complainant and the public body. The Attorney General's Office will seek to resolve complaints in a reasonable period of time, generally within 90 days of the complaint becoming ripe for review by our office.

To Top

Is there a time limit for filing Open Meeting Law complaints?

Yes. Open Meeting Law complaints must be filed with the public body alleged to have committed a violation within 30 days of the date the violation occurred or, if the complainant could not have known about the violation, within 30 days of the date that the violation should reasonably have been discovered. Our office may decline to investigate a complaint that is not filed within the 30-day window. See 940 CMR 29.05(3).

Likewise, if a complainant files a complaint with a public body within 30 days of the date of the alleged violation and is not satisfied with the response of the public body, the complainant may request that our office investigate the complaint by filing a copy of the original complaint and requesting further review by our office. Complaints are ripe for review by our office 30 days after the complaint is first filed with the public body. When filing the complaint with the Attorney General, the complainant must include a copy of the original complaint and may include any other materials the complainant feels are relevant, including an explanation of why the complainant is not satisfied with the remedial action taken by the public body. Requests for our office to investigate the complaint must be filed within 90 days of the date of the alleged violation, unless the public body was granted an extension to respond to a complaint or the complainant demonstrates good cause for the filing delay. See 940 CMR 29.05(6). Our office may decline requests to investigate complaints that are filed with our office more than 90 days after the alleged violation.

To Top