Effective:  July 17, 2014

Welcome to the Office of the State Auditor’s (OSA) website. Your personal privacy is one of our top priorities. The purpose of this policy is to provide you, the user, with notice of what information we collect on this website, what we do with the information, to whom it may be disseminated, and how you can access it. The following policy applies only to the use of the Mass.Gov and OSA website (mass.gov/auditor). Based on this information, you can make a decision about your use of these websites.

As you navigate the Mass.Gov and OSA website, you will see links that, when clicked, will take you to other websites operated by state agencies (the “Other Commonwealth Websites”) or to other websites external to the Massachusetts state government. The Other Commonwealth Websites have individual privacy policies tailored to the interactions available through each site. You may also see links that will take you to websites external to Massachusetts state government. In particular, please note that although some of the social media pages used by the OSA or Mass.Gov may appear to be part of the website or a web page under this website’s control, some of these sites are actually hosted by a third party provider. Thus, when visiting these third party social media sites, you are subject to different privacy policies and terms of service.

Please review the OSA’s Social Media Policy and Mass.Gov Portal’s Social Media Policy to review more detailed information on how the OSA and Mass.Gov websites use specific social media sites and for links to the relevant terms of service and privacy policies for those sites. We strongly suggest that you read the privacy policies for each Commonwealth website that you visit, and any external site that you visit through a link appearing at this website.

A Privacy Partnership

Your privacy with respect to the use of the OSA and Mass.gov websites results from a partnership between the Commonwealth and you, the user. At these websites, we attempt to protect your privacy to the maximum extent possible. However, because some of the information that we receive through this website is subject to the Public Records Law, Massachusetts General Laws c.66, § 10, we cannot ensure absolute privacy. Therefore, information that you send to us through this site may be subject to disclosure to members of the public under the Public Records Law.

You can maximize the benefits of your privacy partnership with the Commonwealth by making informed decisions about whether to share personally identifiable information with us through this website.

Personally Identifiable Information

We use the term "personally identifiable information" to mean any information that could reasonably be used to identify you, including your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, Social Security number, birth date, drivers license number or state-issued identification card, bank account information, credit card information, or any combination of information that could be used to identify you.

Information Voluntarily Provided by You

The OSA and Mass.Gov websites collect voluntary information from you through surveys, e-mails, and any comments posted on social media pages hosted by this website (such as blogs or wikis hosted by the OSA). All such information, including comments and e-mails sent by you to this site will contain personally identifiable information.

While the Mass.Gov Portal is intended as a medium for disseminating information from state agencies, if you need to contact a state agency that is part of the Mass.Gov Portal, you should use the contact information for that state agency posted on its Mass.Gov Portal website.

Information Automatically Collected and Stored by this Site

The OSA and Mass.Gov websites employ the use of "Persistent Cookies." The purpose of these Persistent Cookies is to collect and aggregate data regarding the site's visitor activity in order for the OSA and Mass.Gov to continuously evaluate and improve its website services, including on the Mass.Gov Portal or affiliated websites such as sites hosted at http://blog.mass.gov (collectively, the “Offerings”). You may elect to disable the Persistent Cookies. Please be advised that disabling the Persistent Cookies may affect your ability to view or interact with these websites.

The OSA and Mass.Gov sites do collect and store your "Internet Protocol ("IP") address, (which does not identify you as an individual) indefinitely, as well as information about the date and time of your visit, whether a file you have requested exists, and how many "bytes" of information were transmitted to you over the Web from this site. We use your IP address to assess the frequency of visits to this site and the popularity of its various pages and functions. We will not attempt to match any personally identifiable information that you provide to us with your IP address, unless there are reasonable grounds to believe that doing so would provide information that is relevant and material to a criminal investigation.  The one exception is that when you fill out information in a form on Mass.Gov, we do receive your IP address along with this submission.   We do not use this form-related IP address information unless it may be relevant and material to a criminal investigation.

Usage Data and Know Persistent Cookies

The OSA and Mass.Gov Portal uses (or may use) the following tools (each a “Tool” and collectively, the “Tools”):

Tool Name:               Google Analytics™\
Purpose:                    Collect information about use of the Mass.Gov Portal
Data Collected:        Google Analytics collects information such as how often users visit the Mass.Gov Portal, what pages they visit when they do so, and what other sites they used prior to coming to the Mass.Gov Portal.

Privacy Policy:          http://www.google.com/privacypolicy.html
Terms of Use:           http://www.google.com/analytics/tos.html
Express Opt Out:     N/A
Special Notes:          N/A

Tool Name:              ForeSee™ provided by ForeSee Results
Purpose:                   ForeSee is a survey tool that collects voluntary information from you through surveys posted at the Mass.Gov Portal
Data Collected:       Surveys may collect personally identifiable information you voluntarily submit, such as name, e-mail address or phone number, so that we may contact you for follow up to your question, concern or recommendation

Privacy Policy:         http://www.foreseeresults.com
Terms of Use:          http://www.foreseeresults.com

Express Opt Out:    You can opt out of ForeSee collecting information via the survey by declining to participate in the survey when the invitation pops up on the Mass.Gov Portal. If you do opt out of completing the survey or you have completed a survey, ForeSee uses a persistent cookie so that it does not offer the survey to you again when you revisit the Mass.Gov Portal.

Tool Name:              Twitter™ widget
Purpose:                   Display various Twitter feeds on the Mass.Gov Portal
Data Collected:       The Twitter widget uses Twitter’s persistent cookie(s) to allow you to retweet from and access other Twitter functions related to your account.  Twitter accesses this cookie on every page where the Twitter widget is displayed.  This could allow Twitter to determine which websites you have visited.

Privacy Policy:         http://twitter.com/privacy
Terms of Use:          http://twitter.com/tos
Express Opt Out:    1) https://support.twitter.com/articles/20169421
                                 2) You are not required to log in to your Twitter account (if you have one) to use the Mass.Gov Portal.
Special Notes:         1) Twitter may personalize your user experience on Twitter based on what pages you have visited that contain a Twitter widget

Tool Name:              Facebook™ “Like” widget
Purpose:                   Allows user to “Like” a web page and also displays whether user has already “Liked” the web page.
Data Collected:       The Facebook widget uses Facebook’s persistent cookie(s) to determine whether you have “Liked” a page. Facebook accesses this cookie on every page where the Facebook “Like” widget is displayed.  This could allow Facebook to determine which websites you have visited.
Policy:                       http://www.facebook.com/help/186325668085084/ and http://www.facebook.com/about/privacy/
Terms of Use:          http://www.facebook.com/policies/
Express Opt Out:    You are not required to log in to your Facebook account (if you have one) to use the Mass.Gov Portal.

Additional General Information Related to Tools

We use the information we get from the Tools only to improve the Offerings. The Tools may also collect data such as browser information, operating system, and page views through the implementation of session cookies or persistent cookies. Except as set forth in this privacy policy (e.g., possibly in response to a public records request), we do not combine the information collected through the use of any Tool with personally identifiable information. Although each of the Tools plants a persistent cookie on your web browser to identify you as a unique user the next time you visit the OSA or Mass.Gov Portal, the cookie cannot be used by anyone but the OSA and Mass.Gov and/or the software publisher of the respective Tool (the “Software Publisher”). The Software Publisher’s ability to use and share information collected by the Software Publisher about your visits to the OSA and Mass.Gov Portal is restricted by the Software Publisher’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, links to which have been provided above. You may prevent the Tools from using persistent cookies by disabling cookies on your browser. Some of the Tools permit you to opt-out of the Tool by allowing that Tool to plant a persistent cookie on your web browser indicating that you have opted out.  If you disable cookies on your browser or use a different browser, different computer, different user account, etc., you will need to opt-out again.   If you allow persistent cookies in your web browser, Software Publishers have the technical ability to track your activity, even if you change your IP address, so long as you are using the web browser where the persistent cookie was planted.  You should refer to the Software Publisher’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use to determine whether they do, in fact, track you via the persistent cookie.

Links to Social Media Sites

Certain links on Mass.Gov (whether integrated with Tools or otherwise) facilitate interaction with third-party social media sites.   Accessing third-party social media functions (whether through a Tool or otherwise) may require you to log in to your social media provider, and that social media provider may plant a persistent cookie on your web browser to keep you logged in.  Any interaction with any such social media provider (whether through a Tool or otherwise) is subject to such social media provider’s site policies, and such provider may plant one or more additional persistent cookies on your web browser as a result of your interaction with it.

Online Forms on Mass.Gov

Online forms may be provided by a third party service Formstack. When you use this service, your form submission is securely made to Formstack and stored there. Form submissions are then transmitted to state government staff. State government staff will delete form submissions from Formstack when there is no longer any administrative need to retain them there.  Formstack only uses your form submissions for internal purposes and the data is considered private. Formstack will not distribute or sell your information to a third party unless required by law or a valid government request.  Formstack may also share information if it is acquired by or merged with another company. Please see the Formstack privacy policy at http://www.formstack.com/privacy.

Dissemination of Your Personally Identifiable Information

We do not sell any personally identifiable information collected through this website or submitted to the Commonwealth in conjunction with using functions on the website, and there is no direct or online public access to the information. However, once you voluntarily submit personally identifiable information to us related to your use of this website, its dissemination is governed by the Public Records Law, the Fair Information Practices Act (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 66A), Executive Order 504,  and other applicable laws and regulations. For this reason, part or all of the information you send us may be provided to a member of the public in response to a public records request. There are pieces of information, such as credit card numbers, TIN, username, or password that are protected by the Fair Information Practices Act. For more information on types of data exempted from disclosure under the Public Records Law, please read the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Public Records Law.

Information that you submit voluntarily through third party social media sites, where such sites are associated with the OSA or Mass.Gov and when such information is publically available, including your name, city, town and the substance of anything that you post may be disseminated further by being posted online at this website or be publicly discussed by a member of the OSA. In addition to social media postings, any e-mails or other communication you send us may be provided to a member of the public in response to a public records request.
In addition, the information that you voluntarily submit will be disclosed only to Commonwealth employees or officials, or those under contract with the Commonwealth, with a "need to know" for purposes of fulfilling their job responsibilities. The information will be used for such purposes as answering your questions, responding to any requests for assistance, generating summary statistics about usage, auditing applications and detecting fraud, aiding in the planning, design and development of the OSA’s website, the Mass.Gov website, and fulfilling the Commonwealth's legal obligations. We will collect and aggregate the information you provide through surveys and through the Mass.Gov Portal’s collection of non-personally identifying analytics data for purposes of market research to improve the Offerings by making them more responsive to customer needs.  Where appropriate, we may provide the information you submitted voluntarily through an e-mail to the person or company that is the subject of your inquiry, o to a government agency responsible for the matters referred to in your communication

Your Access and Opportunity to Correct

The Public Records Law and the Fair Information Practices Act provide you certain rights to get information about you that is in our records. To learn more about the circumstances under which you can get and correct this information, please click on the above references to these laws.


Because information sent to the Commonwealth is not encrypted, you should not send messages containing information that you consider highly sensitive to this website. Standard security measures are used to ensure that information provided by you, including your personally identifiable information, is not lost, misused, altered, or unintentionally destroyed. Software to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts is used to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage. Except for authorized law enforcement investigations, no attempts are made to identify individual users or their usage habits.

Special Protections Against Misuse Of Personally Identifiable Information Within Commonwealth Offices.

In 2008, Governor Deval Patrick issued Executive Order 504, which enhanced the privacy protection given to any information about you as a named individual held by the Executive Department of state government. Executive Order 504 limits the collection and dissemination of personally identifiable information within the Executive Department and requires Executive Department agencies to greatly enhance the security and integrity of such data. This website complies with Executive Order 504, so all of the personally identifiable information that you submit to the Mass.Gov Portal is given the privacy protections set forth in Executive Order 504.

Policy Changes

The OSA will post changes to this Privacy Policy Statement at least thirty (30) days before any such changes take effect. Any information the OSA collects under the current policy will remain subject to the terms of this policy. After any such changes take effect, all new information collected, if any, will be subjected to the terms of the new policy.

Contact Information

You may contact this office with inquiries regarding your privacy while using this website. All inquiries should be directed to:

Office of the State Auditor
Communications and Outreach Department
Room 230
State House
Boston, MA 02133


Cookies are files that a website can place on your computer. A cookie file contains unique information that a website can use to track such things as your password, lists of Web pages you have visited, and the date when you last looked at a specific Web page, or to identify your session at a particular website. A cookie file allows the website to recognize you as you click through pages on the site and when you later revisit the site. A website can use cookies to "remember" your preferences, and to record your browsing behavior on the Web. Although you can prevent websites from placing cookies on your computer by using your browser's preference menu, disabling cookies may affect your ability to view or interact with some websites.

An "Internet Protocol Address" or "IP Address" is a series of numbers that identifies each computer and machine connected to the Internet. An IP address enables a server on a computer network to send you the file that you have requested on the Internet. The IP address disclosed to us may identify the computer from which you are accessing the Internet, or a server owned by your Internet Service Provider. Because it is machine-specific, rather than person-specific, an IP address is not, in and of itself, personally identifiable information.

Social Media. A social media website is a website or a social media application that is usually maintained by an individual and has regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. A social media identity is a specific user identity that has been registered on a third party social media site and is associated with the Agency. Government social media sites or identities typically provide forums for commentary or news on topics related to the government agency that hosts the social media site or has secured the social media identity. A typical social media site (whether hosted by the Agency or a third party) combines text, images, and links to other websites including blogs, wikis, and other media related to the topic and enables readers to leave comments in an interactive format.

"Weblog" or "Blog". A weblog or blog is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Government blogs typically provide commentary and news on topics related to the government agency hosting the blog. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to the topic, and enables readers to leave comments in an interactive format.

"Wiki". A wiki is a website that uses collaboration software to enable the creation of a number of interlinked web pages. Many authors can contribute to the website and upload content to the site. Government wikis typically provide a venue for commentary and discussion regarding topics related to the government agency hosting the wiki. A typical wiki combines text, images, and links to other web pages outside the wiki also related to the topic, and enables readers to leave comments in an interactive format.

Office of the State Auditor Disclaimer Notice

While the OSA strives to make the information on this website as timely and accurate as possible, OSA makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents of this website and expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions in the contents of this site. No warranty of any kind, implied, express or statutory, including but not limited to the warranties of non-infringement of third party rights, title, merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and freedom from computer virus, is given with respect to this website or is links to other Internet resources.

The information appearing on this website is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice to any individual or entity.

In any situation where the official printed publications of the OSA or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts differ from the text contained in this site (or its links to other Commonwealth website sources), the official printed publications take precedence.

Reference in the OSA website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the OSA.