Massachusetts

State Public Records Law

Commonwealth of Massachusetts General Laws

Part 1, Title X, Chapter 66
M.G.L. 66 § 10 et seq.

Read the full text

Exemptions to Disclosure

The following records are exempt:

  • “Policy deliberation” (for example inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters relating to policy positions being developed by the agency; but this subclause shall not apply to reasonably completed factual studies or reports on which the development of such policy positions has been or may be based)
  • Notebooks and other materials prepared by an employee of the commonwealth which are personal to him and not maintained as part of the files of the governmental unit
  • Trade secrets or other proprietary information of the University of Massachusetts, including trade secrets or proprietary information provided to the University by research sponsors or private concerns

Access Rights

  • Any person
  • At reasonable times and w/o unreasonable delay
  • One copy to be furnished upon payment of reasonable fee
  • Custodian shall respond w/in 10 days
  • Requests must be either hand-delivered or mailed via first class
  • If custodian refuses access, requestor must go to supervisor of records; if custodian doesn’t listen to supervisor, supervisor may notify Attorney General or appropriate district attorney, and court can order compliance
  • Purpose irrelevant
  • Massachusetts has strong protections against disclosure of public employee personnel info, but very weak protections against disclosure of entity business matters (strong protections for human persons, not for non-human “persons”)
  • Timeframe shall not exceed 15 days following the initial request for the public records
  • Itemized good faith estimate of the fees associated with producing the requested documents

Destruction of Public Records

All records may be destroyed w/in 7 years of creation, but no such paper shall be destroyed without the written approval of the supervisor of records. M.G.L. § 8.

State Whistleblower Score

Rank: 15/51 States & DC

Massachusetts’s statute has incomplete coverage (13 out of 33 possible points) with a very good degree of usability (26 out of 33) and very good remedies (24 out of 33) plus the one bonus point awarded for employee notification of rights.

Read the full assessment here»

Massachusetts Activity

One Woman’s War Against ‘Forever Chemicals’

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PEERMail | An Epic Journey You Won’t Want to Miss

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COMMENTARY | The Chemistry Council’s PFAS Disinformation Campaign

The American Chemistry Council is trying to convince federal and state legislators that PFAS isn't a problem that ...

Letter to Rep. Cyr and Sen. Hogan about June 16, 2021 PFAS Interagency Task Force Hearing (PDF)

DESCRIPTION: Inaccuracies and Misinformation in the June 16, 2021 PFAS Interagency Task Force Hearing TO: ...

COMMENTARY | New England States Must Act on PFAS in Pesticides

PFAS laden pesticides being sprayed aerially to control mosquitoes is yet another exposure to this ubiquitous ...

Flying Sea Turtles in Crisis Is Growing Concern  

Park Service & NOAA Shrink Sea Turtle Recovery Capacity as Need Spikes 

Aerially Sprayed Pesticide Contains PFAS  

“Forever Chemicals” Potentially Spread Over Millions of Acres 

PEERMail: Aerial Spraying PFAS in Massachusetts

Massachusetts communities struggle with PFAS contamination in their water supplies. One source of this ...

Op-Ed | Should We Stop Spraying for Mosquitoes During the Pandemic?

Should we be using pesticides when spraying for mosquitoes that may compromise someone’s respiratory system during ...

Massachusetts Concedes Aerial Spraying Largely Ineffective

Half of Spray Events Kill Zero Mosquitos; No Proof of Disease Reduction

Massachusetts Struggles for Safe, Effective Mosquito Control 

Governor’s Arbovirus Proposal Much Improved but Big Questions Remain  

Sewage Spills Pose COVID-19 Risks  

Overflows into Drinking Water Sources May Create New Infection Vectors  

Massachusetts PFAS Plan Good Start, But Too Limited

Sets Limits too High, Omits Thousands of PFAS and Fails to Address Sources

PEERMail: Huge Victory by PEER

Why would Massachusetts spend millions to control and remove toxic PFAS from its waters, while at the same time ...

Massachusetts Issues Permit for PFAS It Is Fighting

Big Discharge Slated for Merrimack River – Water Source for Half-Million

New EPA Appointee Awash in Toxic Recusals

Regional Administrator for New England Carries Heavy Baggage from Dow

Coyote Killing Contests Don’t Belong In National Parks

Petition Presses Cape Cod Seashore to Sharply Limit Carnivore Hunting

Massachusetts Needs a PFAS Public Health Advisory for Game

“Forever Chemical” Buildup in Food Chain Affects Game and Fish in Toxic Hotspots

PFAS Breakthrough in Massachusetts

Army to Give Both Immediate Relief and Long-Term Treatment for Hard-Hit Town

Massachusetts Scarred by “Forever Chemical” Contamination

Bay State’s Widespread and Severe PFAS Levels Are Test for New EPA Action Plan

Bay State South Coast Rail Plan Tethered to a Lead Balloon

Retaining Controversial Stoughton Alternative Dooms the Entire Plan to Failure

Kyla Bennett: From Whistleblower to WhistleBlower Defender

While working in the EPA New England Regional Office in Boston, Kyla reached out to PEER to address a plan to ...

Coyote Control Based on Scientific House of Cards

Complaint Seeks to End Federal Reliance on Flawed 42-Year-Old Study

Bay State South Coast Rail Should Return to Drawing Board

New Review Should Revisit Unrealistic Assumptions that Sunk Stoughton Alternative

Massachusetts Begins Mass Environmental Rollback

Wetlands, Wildlife and Water Management Protections May Be on Chopping Block

South Coast Rail Dealt Mortal Blow by New Transit Plan

Years-Long “Moratorium” Puts Massachusetts South Coast Expansion into Dustbin

EPA Faults Bay State South Coast Rail Plan

Several “Outstanding issues” Continue to Pose Legal Hurdles for Stalled Rail Line

Bay State South Coast Rail Plan Powered by Magical Thinking

Key Ridership, Cost, Impact and Alternative Analyses Divorced from Real World

Misguided Massachusetts Coal Ash Greenhouse Gas Credit Plan

Ignoring Massive GHG from Coal Combustion Vitiates State Climate Control Goals

Eco-Lawsuit Advances Against Cape Wind

Risk to Right Whale and other Threatened and Endangered Species Litigated

Aerial Spraying Leaves Pesticide Footprint in Local Waters

No Buffer Zone or Other Effort to Minimize Pesticide Discharge into Water Bodies

Massachusetts Balks at Proving Aerial Spray Success Claim

Massive Aerial Spraying Provides Dubious Safeguard against Equine Encephalitis

ROMNEY WENT FROM CAP & TRADE ARCHITECT TO ARSONIST

Flip-Flop Announced at Onset of First Republican Presidential Primary Bid

Biggest Aerial Spraying in Bay State Leaves Big Questions

Mosquito Spraying for Equine Encephalitis Lacks Permit and Adequate Monitoring

Romney Loathed Non-Partisan Civil Service

Corporate Style Clashed with Anti-Spoils System Safeguards in Massachusetts

Romney Toxic Record Nothing to Brag About

“Pave and Wave” Cleanups, Cancer Clusters Ignored and School Asbestos Worsened

Romney Not Likely to Be a Conservation President

Dismal Land Preservation Record in Massachusetts Bodes Ill for Natural Legacy

Romney Botched Auto Exhaust Testing Program

Tried to Cook the Books and Silence Whistleblower While Shielding Contractor

Romney Hog-Tied Pollution Prosecution

Enforcement Obstruction, Disruption and “Kill the Lawyers” Style in Massachusetts

Love That Dirty Water: Romney Water Pollution Record

Hundreds of Corporate Waivers to Dump Toxics into Massachusetts Water Supply

How Would the Environment Fare Under a President Romney?

Not Very Well, His Record as Massachusetts Governor Suggests

EPA Throws Roadblock at Bay State South Coast Rail Project

“Unacceptable Impact” and Inaccurate Assessment Dim Prospects for New Rail Line

EPA Waves Red Flag on Bay State Rail Project

Rapid Bus More Practical and Less Harmful than Running Train through Swamp

Cape Wind Monitoring Plan Is for the Birds

Bird and Bat Studies Not Designed to Pick Up Meaningful Data

Heavy Toll on Wildlife Prompts Lawsuit Against Cape Wind

Scientific Reviews of Impact on Endangered and Threatened Birds Skewed

Widespread Asbestos Violations in Massachusetts Schools

EPA Intervention Demanded to Eliminate Asbestos Problems before Schools Reopen

Massachusetts Suspends Troubled Woody Biomass Initiative

Sustainability, Pollution and Net Energy Usage Uncertainties Prompt New Study

Westport Wetlands Whistleblowers Win

Settlement Affirms Conservation Commissioners’ Right to Act Free from Politics

Democrats Pressure EPA to Green-Light Pork

Rep. Frank Says EPA Will Bar Anyone with a “Record of Hostility” to Pet Project

Ridership for Stoughton Line Falls as Costs Rise

Worst Eco-Alternative Rail Line Will Cost Massachusetts $800,000 per Commuter

Bay State Selectmen Subject of Complaint and Federal Lawsuit

Purge of Conservation Commission Fuels Development Free-for-All in Rehoboth

Ocean Fisheries Protections to Be Weakened

Bush Plan Would Give Industry Greater Power Over Fishery Management Decisions

Massachusetts Recharge Plan Puts Drinking Water at Risk

Industrial Polluters Escape Monitoring, Enforcement and Ongoing Safeguards

Bay State Worsens Prescription Drug in Drinking Water Problem

Siting Hospitals and Nursing Homes Next to Drinking Water Wells Is Unwise

WETLANDS WHISTLEBLOWERS IN WESTPORT PROCEED TO TRIAL

Legal Defense Fund Established for “Westport Four” Conservation Commissioners

SECRET TOWN MEETINGS TO PAVE RATTLESNAKE HILL RULED ILLEGAL

Sharon Selectman Repeatedly Violated Open Meeting Law for Luxury Development

CANADA ADVANCES RIGHT WHALE PROTECTIONS WHILE U.S. STALLS

White House Blocking Ship Speed Limits to Accommodate Foreign Flag Shippers

MASSACHUSETTS STUMBLES ON SMART GROWTH PATH

Battle to Save Rattlesnake Hill Signals Backlash against Mega-Developments

WHITE HOUSE WAITING GAME ON WHALE SAFEGUARDS

Time Is Running Out for Critically Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale

MASSACHUSETTS POISED TO PAVE OVER WETLAND PROTECTIONS

Governor Wants Wetlands Permits Processed “At the Speed of Business”

MASSACHUSETTS CUTTING CITIZENS OUT OF PROTECTING WETLANDS

Environmental Groups Decry Gov. Patrick's Plan as Breaking Campaign Promises

ROMNEY BACKS AWAY FROM HIS SEWAGE PLAN TO AVOID LAWSUIT

Worst Features Removed But Significant Sludge Left for Incoming Governor

MASSACHUSETTS ECO-COPS SAY THEY ARE HANDCUFFED

Survey Says Environmental Enforcement Suffered Under Romney

MASSACHUSETTS LOSING WAR ON SPRAWL UNDER ROMNEY

Fewest Acres Protected in 2006 than in Past 15 Years at Higher Cost per Acre

MASSACHUSETTS SEWAGE STREAMLINING MEANS DIRTIER WATERS

Incoming Governor Left to Deal with Mega Industrial Wastewater Mess

BIG HOLES IN NEW ENGLAND’S WHISTLEBLOWER LAWS

State Employees Who Tell Inconvenient Truths Face Vastly Different Consequences

MASSACHUSETTS SUSPENDED WATER POLLUTION DISCHARGE LIMITS

No Monitoring for 1.4 Million Gallons per Day of Industrial Wastewater

NOAA Adopting Ship Speed Limits to Save the Right Whale

Ship Strikes are Largest Threat to Critically Endangered Marine Mammal

Coast Guard Backs New Shipping Lanes for Atlantic Right Whale

Altered Harbor Approaches to Reduce Ship Strikes on Endangered Marine Mammal

ROMNEY REVERSES HIMSELF ON ENVIRONMENTAL CLOSURES

Office Re-Opened After Three Years Due to Predicted Enforcement Disruption

Another Right Whale Calf Killed Off Florida – Tail Sliced Off

Petition to the Coast Guard for Safety Zone to Slow Ships Crossing Whales’ Habitat

State Audits Find Three-Fourths of Toxic Clean-Ups Deficient

Many Privatized Hazardous Waste Removals Must be Done Over

BERKLEY TOXIC HOT SPOTS MISTESTED, STATE AUDIT FINDS

Commonwealth Threatens Fines in Cancer Cluster at Bog’s Landing

ROMNEY ADMINISTRATION ILLEGALLY DRAINING CLEAN WATER JEWEL

110-Year Old Park Trashed; Biggest Wetland Loss in 15 Years

Rule Delays Doom Right Whale to Extinction, Top Advisor Says

Marine Mammal Commission Call for Emergency Ship Strike Safeguards Ignored

ENVIRONMENTALISTS CHALLENGE STATE TO DO BETTER

Commonwealth’s “Dirty Water” Is Nothing to Celebrate

MBTA CANNOT AFFORD EXPANSION

New Projects Will Put “Entire Transit System at Risk,” Warns Finance Commission

ROMNEY USED CONSERVATION MONEY FOR SUPER BOWL RALLY

Department Head Protested and Was Fired

MASSACHUSETTS ENVIRONMENTAL COPS NEED BACKING AND MORE BEEF

State Withholds Report Decrying Lack of Commitment, Leadership and Focus

DEP NOMINEE CARRYING BAGGAGE FROM MASSACHUSETTS

Does Gina McCarthy Embrace the Mitt Romney Record?

MASSACHUSETTS ENVIRONMENTAL FUNDING CUT BY 25 PERCENT

State Can't Meet Federal Requirements; Less Than 10% of State Waters Are Clean

AUTO EMISSIONS WHISTLEBLOWER FILES RETALIATION COMPLAINT

PhD Statistician Reduced to Data Entry; Emissions Testing System Still Flawed

MASSACHUSETTS STILL UNHEALTHY

Two-Year Federal-State Plan Sees Little Improvement in Commonwealth's Environmental Health

ROMNEY POLITICAL STAFF TO SCREEN ENVIRONMENTAL APPEALS

Environmental Appeals Office Shut Down

NORTHEAST DEP RELOCATION REDUCING POLLUTION ENFORCEMENT

Employees Survey Finds Move Has Hampered Effectiveness; Destroyed Morale

GROUPS SUE TO BLOCK 25-YEAR MMR LEASE EXTENSION

Suit Cites Lack of Environmental Analysis

GROUP CHARGES MMR 25-YEAR LEASE EXTENSION IS ILLEGAL

Files Notice of Lawsuit

MASSACHUSETTS AUTO EMISSIONS TESTS BADLY FLAWED

Cars Pass When They Should Fail, and Vice Versa

PERCHLORATE CONTAMINATION WORSENS ON CAPE COD

Commonwealth Issues Cleanup Order to the Army

ROMNEY OFFICIALS CITED IN UNION BUSTING COMPLAINT

Attorney Restructure Violates Labor Practice Laws

STATE MAY FORFEIT MILLIONS IN POLLUTION FINES

Romney Plan to Fire State Attorneys Will Disrupt Environmental Enforcement

ROMNEY MOVES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION INTO DEVELOPMENT AGENCY

Reorganization Creates Conflicts In Agency Role

GOV. ROMNEY ISSUES GAG ORDERS

Groups Environmental Employees Forbidden From Talking to Media

BERKSHIRE COMMUNITY COLLEGE WETLANDS VIOLATIONS INVESTIGATED

Embattled School President in Center of Controversy

HOCKOMOCK BLUE SPOTTED SALAMANDERS AREA RARE, PURE POPULATION

Independent Study Creates a New Roadblock to MBTA Rail Route

RAIL LINE THROUGH HOCKOMOCK UNDER FIRE

Report Details 10-Year Pattern of Distorted Data and Deceptive Documentation

“QUACK SCIENCE” BY MBTA IN HOCKOMOCK RAIL PROJECT

Water Quality Issues Ignored; MBTA Consultant Kills Rare Salamanders

MBTA USES BOGUS STUDIES TO JUSTIFY RAIL LINE

EXPERTS CHARGE T MAKES "SIGNIFICANT ERRORS"

POLLUTION PROTECTION LAGGING IN MASSACHUSETTS

Poor Federal Oversight of Mass. DEP

PENTAGON SEEKS ENVIRONMENTAL EXEMPTIONS FOR THE MA MILITARY RESERVATION

Clean Up May Be Shelved
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