Executive Order

Executive Order No. 75: Implementing "Right-to-Know" (Freedom of Information) amendments to G.L. c. 66

Date: 08/07/1970
Issuer: Acting Governor Francis W. Sargent
Amended by: Executive Order 108

Table of Contents

WHEREAS, the people of this Commonwealth are entitled by the Constitution of the Commonwealth to a government accountable to them; and

WHEREAS, the people's right to know what their government is doing is one of the fundamental rights of a citizen and is the primary means they have to ensure the accountability to which they are entitled; and

WHEREAS, the legislature has adopted in Chapter 66 of the General Laws a policy requiring that "public records" shall be open to inspection and examination; and

WHEREAS, there are many documents which are neither specifically required by said law nor prohibited by it to be open to inspection, but which should be available to citizens of this Commonwealth so that their government will be truly open and accountable; and

WHEREAS, standardized rules and regulations are needed to implement the policy of the legislature and the requirements of the Constitution so that citizens will be better able to understand their rights and so that all requests for information will be granted or denied expeditiously, reasonably, and equitably;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Francis W. Sargent, Governor of the Common- wealth, by virtue of the authority vested in me as supreme executive magistrate, do hereby order that:

1. This Order shall apply to all departments, agencies, and bureaus within the executive department of the government of the Commonwealth.

2. Unless otherwise specifically required by any general or special law, or permitted under this Order, each such agency, in accordance with the rules and regulations prescribed by Article 6, shall make available for public inspection all public records, documents, reports, studies, memoranda, statistical and other data, and statements of agency policy and interpretations of such statements, or such further information as defined by the Commissioner of Administration and Finance. Exceptions to this paragraph shall be limited to those enumerated in paragraph 3, below.

3. Unless otherwise specifically required by any general or special law, an agency shall withhold information requested by a citizen only if the matters requested are:

a. specifically required to be withheld by statute;

b. specifically required to be withheld by Executive Order in the interest of the defense or security of the Commonwealth or of the United States.

c. related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of said agency;

d. inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters relating to policy positions being developed by the agency; but this sub-paragraph shall not apply to reasonable completed factual studies or reports on which the development of such policy positions may be based;

e. investigatory information compiled for future law enforcement purposes except to the extent available by law to a party other than the agency;

f. trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person on a privileged or confidential basis;

g. personal and medical files and similar information, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;

h. matters specifically exempted by order of the Commissioner of Administration.

The burden shall be upon the agency to explain with specificity the exception which applies to any request for information, and the reasons for such application.

4. Each agency shall designate from among its present employees a person who shall be charged with the agency's responsibility to carry out the purposes of this order in accordance with the rules and regulations adopted by the Commissioner of Administration.

5. Each agency shall provide for inspection of documents as may be available to citizens on a routine basis as well as those for which the citizen has made specific request, and where provided by any general or special law and subject to the approval of the Commissioner of Administration and Finance, each agency shall charge reasonable commercial rates for copying documents.

6. No later than ninety days from the effective date of this order, the Commissioner of Administration shall adopt rules and regulations to carry out the purposes of this order, such rules and regulations shall include a method of administrative appeal by citizens aggrieved by decisions of any agency, which appeal shall be final.

Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this seventh day of August in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and seventy and of the independence of the United States of America, one hundred and ninety-fifth.

FRANCIS W. SARGENT

Acting Governor

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

JOHN F. X. DAVOREN

Secretary of the Commonwealth

Contact for No. 75: Implementing "Right-to-Know" (Freedom of Information) amendments to G.L. c. 66

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