Massachusetts law about freedom of information and public records

Laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on freedom of information and public records law.

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Table of Contents

Best bet the national FOIA portal
A great place to start for federal Freedom of Information Act requests. This site includes information and forms to help you submit FOIA requests. Also includes contact information for FOIA officers and liaisons at government agencies.

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, Public Records Division, including: 

Massachusetts laws

MGL c. 4, § 7 cl. 26 Definition of public records

MGL c. 66 Public records

  • § 10B Permits disclosure of public employees' personal email addresses and phone numbers to unions in certain circumstances

MGL c. 66A Fair information practices act

Massachusetts regulations

940 CMR 11 Fair information practices act

950 CMR 32 Public records access regulations

950 CMR 33 Information practices regulations

Federal laws

5 USC § 552 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)


FOIA letter generator, from the Student Press Law Center.

Making a request for public records, Mass. Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Includes a sample letter.

Selected cases

Record retention schedules

MGL c. 66, § 8 Preservation of certain books, papers and records; destruction of certain original instruments
Law gives the timeline for keeping state, county, city and town records.

Massachusetts records retention schedules, Mass. Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Searchable database of records retention schedules. Provides detailed guidance on the storage and disposal of records.

Massachusetts Trial Court record retention schedule, Administrative Office of the Trial Court.
Outlines requirements for each court department.

Web sources

Police Records

Internal affairs and personnel records, SPR bulletin 3-04
Documents in an internal affairs investigation record are different from ordinary evaluation or discipline determinations. They are not typically exempt from public records law as personnel information.

Other Public Records

Electronic records management guidelines, Supervisor of Public Records, 2011.
Includes information on e-mail retention and other electronic records.

Executive Order 13392: Improving agency disclosure of information, President George W. Bush, December 14, 2005.

Massachusetts government public records requests portal
Select the organization you want to make a Public Records Request from.

Massachusetts open government guide, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
A comprehensive summary of Massachusetts’ public records law. Provides guidance on specific types of records. Cites to primary source law.

Massachusetts public notices,
Online access to public notice advertisements from nearly 100 newspapers throughout Massachusetts. Notices include government contracts, foreclosures, unclaimed property and more. 

Segregating and marking documents for release in accordance with the Open Government Act, U.S. Dept. of Justice.
Provides guidance for government officials in how to comply with the Open Government Act.

Print sources

Administrative law, Matthew Bender, Part III: Public Information.

Administrative law and practice, 2nd ed. (Mass Practice v.39), Thomson Reuters, 2016 with supplement. Chapters 16 and 18.

Bender’s forms of discovery, Volume 16, Chapter 14 “Freedom of information law and discovery.”

Freedom of information and public records law in Massachusetts, 4th ed., MCLE, 2015.

Guidebook to the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts, West, loose-leaf.

“Litigation Under Freedom of Information Act,” 110 AmJur Trials 367.

Massachusetts administrative law and practice, LexisNexis Practice Guide. Annual. Chapters 5 and 6.

Massachusetts municipal law, MCLE. Loose-leaf. Chapter 19.

Municipal law and practice, 5th ed. (Mass Practice v.18), Thomson/West, 2006 with supplement. Chapters 7 and 8.

Public records and open meeting law, MCLE, 2020.

"State Freedom of Information Act Requests: Right to Receive Information in Particular Medium or Format," 86 ALR4th 786.

Contact   for Massachusetts law about freedom of information and public records

Last updated: April 30, 2024

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