Guide for Members of Public Boards and Commissions: Introduction

Congratulations on your appointment to a public board or commission (public board). Your service to the residents of Massachusetts is essential to good government. Thank you for your commitment to fulfilling your duties and responsibilities as a public board member.

Table of Contents

Welcome to Our Guide for Public Boards and Commissions

Public boards take many forms. Some provide direct oversight to a state, county or local governmental entity (collectively, a “public organization”). Other boards set policy for their public organization and some make advisory recommendations. Still others perform a combination of these functions.   

Whether you serve on a state, county or local board, you support a public organization that provides public services with public funds. Your work is important, whether you are advising your public organization on policy matters, approving salaries, reviewing the budget, or assessing the executive director’s performance. Your participation, insights and engagement as a resident and active decision-maker are essential to ensuring that your public organization fulfills its mission and uses public resources appropriately.

This guide outlines practices, such as upholding fiduciary principles, that will help you effectively perform your role.  It also provides an overview of the laws that apply to your position.  These laws relate to the meetings your board holds, your official acts and communications, and your individual conduct. These laws serve to promote open, transparent and accountable government, all of which are essential elements to our representative democracy.

Use this guide to understand your obligations and to help you perform your duties as a public board member to the best of your abilities.

The appendix at the end of this guide contains additional resources, including contact information for state agencies that interpret and enforce the laws applicable to you and your board.

Thank you again for your commitment to fulfilling your duties and responsibilities as a public board member.  

Additional Resources

Watch Our Video on How to Be an Effective Board and Commission Member



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Date published: February 1, 2022
Last updated: August 29, 2022
Image credits:  Shutterstock

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