• This page, Guide for Members of Public Boards and Commissions Appendix B: Reasons for Entering Executive Session, is offered by
  • Office of the Inspector General

Guide for Members of Public Boards and Commissions Appendix B: Reasons for Entering Executive Session

While all meetings of public bodies must be open to the public, certain topics may be discussed in executive, or closed, session.

Table of Contents

Executive session in progress

Best Practices for Public Officials

The open meeting law, G.L. c. 30A, § 21, sets out ten permissible reasons for entering executive session:

1. To discuss the reputation, character, physical condition or mental health, rather than professional competence, of an individual, or to discuss the discipline or dismissal of, or complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual

2. To conduct strategy sessions in preparation for negotiations with nonunion personnel or to conduct collective bargaining sessions or contract negotiations with nonunion personnel

3. To discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining or litigation if an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the bargaining or litigating position of the public body and the chair so declares

4. To discuss the deployment of security personnel or devices, or strategies with respect thereto

5. To investigate charges of criminal misconduct or to consider the filing of criminal complaints

6. To consider the purchase, exchange, lease or value of real property if the chair declares that an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the negotiating position of the public body

7. To comply with, or act under the authority of, any general or special law or federal grant-in-aid requirements

8. To consider or interview applicants for employment or appointment by a preliminary screening committee if the chair declares that an open meeting will have a detrimental effect in obtaining qualified applicants; provided, however, that this clause shall not apply to any meeting, including meetings of a preliminary screening committee, to consider and interview applicants who have passed a prior preliminary screening

9. To meet or confer with a mediator, as defined in section 23C of chapter 233, with respect to any litigation or decision on any public business within its jurisdiction involving another party, group or entity, provided that: (i) any decision to participate in mediation shall be made in an open session and the parties, issues involved and purpose of the mediation shall be disclosed; and (ii) no action shall be taken by any public body with respect to those issues which are the subject of the mediation without deliberation and approval for such action at an open session

10. To discuss trade secrets or confidential, competitively-sensitive or other proprietary information provided: in the course of activities conducted by a governmental body as an energy supplier under a license granted by the department of public utilities pursuant to G.L. c. 164, § 1F

Additional Resources


Image credits:  Shutterstock