What does the Massachusetts Public Records Law Cover?

The Massachusetts Public Records Law, G.L.c.66, §10 applies to records created by or in the custody of a state or local agency, board or other government entity.

The Law applies to all government records generated, received or maintained electronically, including computer records, electronic e-mail, video and audiotapes and facsimiles. Every record that is made or received by a government entity or employee is presumed to be a public record unless a specific statutory exemption permits or requires it to be withheld in whole or in part. Only records essential to the Operational Services Division (“OSD”) are kept in the Division.

 

How do I obtain copies of public records?

To obtain a copy of a record, you must make a request to OSD, to the attention of the Public Records Administrator by letter or e-mail.

 

Is the Operational Services Division required to provide a fee estimate?

OSD will provide a, written, good faith estimate for the cost of complying with a public record request when the cost is expected to exceed $10.00.

The actual cost of producing the record might vary once the OSD staff begins preparing the record. A records administrator is permitted to require payment of the estimated fee before commencing work.

 

Does the OSD Public Records administrator charge a fee for search and segregation of records?

A records administrator may charge and recover a fee for the time spent searching, redacting, photocopying and sending electronically.

The hourly rate may not be greater than the pro-rated hourly wage of the lowest paid employee who is capable of performing the task. 

If a requestor wishes to review records in the records administrator’s office but does not require copies, a records administrator may charge and recover a fee for time spent searching for and redacting the records. Access to records viewed in this manner should not be denied and only minor fees associated with securing the record should be charged.

 

How much is OSD’s charge for copies of public records?

As a general rule, OSD will charge you for all requests where the printed information  is greater than twenty (20) pages in length.  Charges are generally calculated based on the cost of research, labor and copying, and redacting and sending electronically. The cost of copying is based upon the format of the information that is being provided to the requestor, as set forth below:

 

Photocopying                                                                         $0.20 per page
Computer printout copies                                                     $0.50 per page
Labor & Research, redacting and sending electronically     $ hourly salary rate of employee

 

What do I do if my request is denied?

The OSD’s Public Records Administrator must respond to your request within ten (10) calendar days (excluding weekends and legal holidays). If the administrator fails to respond or denies the request, you may appeal the matter to the Supervisor of Public Records at the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth within ninety days. The appeal must include a copy of your original request and any response by the records administrator.

 

Does the Public Records Law cover questions asked of government employees?

The Public Records Law only applies to government records. A public records administrator is not required by the Public Records Law to answer questions or create a record in response to a request, but may do so at his or her discretion.