For Immediate Release - July 30, 2015

Governor Baker Introduces New Procedures for Public Records Requests

Guidance aims to increase transparency by reducing costs, streamlining responsiveness

BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker today announced for the first time administration-wide measures to improve transparency and public access to government records and information, including a reduced and streamlined fee structure and more efficient communications and responses to requesters. The new procedures announced today and outlined in a memo to Cabinet Secretaries will be implemented over the coming weeks.

“We are proud to undertake this important step towards increasing the public’s access to information and shedding further light on the government that their tax dollars fund,” said Governor Baker. “These new measures reduce costs and make the public records request process more uniform and timely, increasing government’s public accountability, openness and transparency.”

The procedures being implemented by the Baker-Polito Administration in accordance with best practices from around the nation, seek to comply with and exceed the requirements under the existing public records law to more diligently respond to the number of public records requests while reducing delays and costs to requesters and continuing to protect the personal information of taxpayers and service users.

MassIT is additionally in the process of implementing over the next year, e-mail search capabilities for Executive Branch agencies to ease the fulfilling of broad based email searches.

Improving Government Transparency:

  • Secretariats and agencies will designate a Records Access Officer (RAO) to receive and coordinate requests and establish an internal tracking system to ensure compliance with the administration’s public records policy and existing law. RAO’s contact information will be posted on an agency’s website along with helpful instructions for submitting public records requests.
  • To improve communications with the public, secretariats and agencies through their RAO will notify a requester within 5 days if the records they are seeking may take more than 10 days and/or $10 to produce. Requests should be fulfilled in no more than eight weeks, with any extension being explained to a requester in writing.
  • Secretariats and agencies will regularly make available frequently requested information and/or records on their website and provide information as able, in electronic, searchable formats.
  • The administration will waive search and retrieval fees for standard public records requests, provide at no cost the first 4 hours of work required for more complex requests, and charge no more than $25 per hour for additional time required and notify the requester of those costs in advance.
  • The administration will implement standardized production costs in response to public records requests, and in the interest of cost savings and environmental purposes, fulfill requests electronically as able.
    • Electronic Copies: No charge for duplication*
    • 1-4 precisely defined documents: No charge**
    • Black and White Hard Copies: 10 cents per page for single- and double-sided copies.
    • Color Hard Copies: 50 cents per page

*Costs for discs, thumb-drives or other storage devices necessary to transmit requested documents still apply.

**To be provided within 3-9 days of receipt of the request.

Public Records Requests Memo  pdf format of Public Records Requests Memo