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Public Records Request Policy

According to MGL Ch. 66, Sec 10(d), notice is hereby given that any person seeking Public Records as prescribed by 950 CMR, 32.00, upon request to the Records Access Officer or designee may receive a copy of any public record within their respective custody and control, as defined under 950 CMR, 32.02 or G.L. Ch.4, Sec. 7(26). Requests shall begin with the below-named Records Access Officers.

Andrew Marks and Leanne Gray

Public Records Request Policy( policy # 31)

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines and procedures for all individuals receiving a public records request. The Board of Water Commissioner created two Record Access Officers (RAOs): Andrew Marks and Leanne Gray

Definitions

Documents: Any correspondence requesting documents shall be submitted to the respective RAO. Those documents are, but not limited to: hard copy of minutes, audio recordings of meetings, subpoena, emails, voice message slips, computer-generated documents, day-to-day correspondence along with any and all attachments, etc.

Receipt of Request

All public records requests shall be submitted to one of the respective RAOs. Any and all responses shall be issued by the RAO who shall forward the response to the requestor.

1. If able, a full response to the requestor should be made within 10 business days. If unable to do so, the RAO must respond to the public records request within 10 business days. Failure to do so means that no fees may be assessed.

a. Ten (10) Business Days begins with the first business day following the date of receipt of a request received via e-mail, letter, in person or via fax.
b. Ten (10) Business Days for an oral request begins the day the oral request is made.
c. Ten (10) Business Days shall begin on the first day after a holiday.

2. A response includes

a. Confirmation of receipt & date of request;
b. Producing the record(s), or
c. Denying the request, citing the specific exemption(s);
d. Identify requested documents or categories of records not within possession or custody of the RAO. Identify who is the correct custodian of the record(s);
e. Identify what will be withheld (If known), and specifically outline applicable exemptions;
f. Identify records produced or intended to be produced; if necessary, a detailed explanation why a response in excess of 10 business days is required;
g. Provide anticipated timeframe for full response;
h. May ask for further clarification on request or suggest modification, if appropriate, to reduce time & cost;
i. If more than 25 business days are anticipated to respond, notify requestor of possible/actual need to petition the Supervisor of Records in Boston for time to act. May also ask requestor to voluntarily grant additional time to comply;

Note: The RAO may ask if information is being made to better understand government, for news or commercial/business purposes. This information will assist the RAO when reaching out to the custodian.

Estimated Cost/Fees

Response shall be in electronic format unless the requestor specifies otherwise.

If any fees are to be charged, the custodian shall provide an itemized good-faith estimate of fees. The Public Records Law allows RAOs to assess a reasonable fee for producing records other than those “freely available,” such as on-line or electronic format. Here are the fees that could be assessed:

1. Five cents (5¢) per page for photocopies.
2. Actual cost of electronic storage device (or requestor could provide their own).
3. Not more than $25.00 per hour beyond the first 2 hours of time needed to comply.
4. In accordance with 950 CMR 32, should Mashpee’s population exceed 20,000 year-round residents as determined by the most up-to-date decennial US Census, no fee shall be assessed for first 2 hours of time complying with requests. (Not more than $25.00 per hour beyond the first 2 hours.)
5. If fees are intended to be assessed, the RAO shall provide an itemized good-faith estimate in writing. Fees will not exceed the actual cost of reproducing, searching for or complying with the public record(s) request.
6. Fees may only be collected if an estimate was provided in writing and agreed to prior to the compilation of documents. The RAO may deny a request if fees aren’t paid prior to the release of the public record(s).

Supervisor or Records/Appeals

If the Mashpee Water District fails to comply with a public records request or exceeds the time to act without written permission from either the requestor or Supervisor of Records, the requestor may file an appeal to the Supervisor of Records.

Appeals can be made to the Supervisor of Records for additional time to respond to a public records request. Requests for additional time to respond must be made with 20 business days of receipt of the public records request. Statement of requestor’s right to appeal to Supervisor (MGL c. 66 s.10A (a)) and/or to the Superior Court (MGL c.66, s.10A(c)).

The RAO shall demonstrate “good cause” as to why more time is needed to comply. Good cause includes:

1. Amount of time needed to search or redact records.
2. Office Hours & Capacity of Office.
3. Efforts undertaken to respond and previous requests.
4. Number of requests, including if part of a series of contemporaneous requests that are frivolous, intended to intimidate or harass.

The Supervisor must provide a response within five business days of receipt. (Time clock begins the day after email is received).

Supervisor of Records
Division of Public Records
Office of the Secretary of State
One Ashburton Place, Room 1719
Boston, MA 02108

Email preferred – pre@sec.state.ma.us

If more time is granted, unless otherwise stated by the Supervisor, the last date to provide full response will be 55 business days from day the public records request was received.

Minutes

All Boards, Committees, and Commissions shall at a minimum, maintain a hard copy of regular session minutes. Audio and video recordings of such meetings are encouraged based upon availability. Executive session minutes shall only be maintained in hard copies and may only be released in conformance with Massachusetts General Laws.

Exemptions

Exemption (a) – The Statutory Exemption, applies to records that are: specifically or by necessary implication exempted from disclosure by statute MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (a).

Exemption (b) – applies to records that are: related solely to internal personnel rules and practices of the government unit, provided however, that such records shall be withheld only to the extent that proper performance of necessary governmental functions requires such withholding. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (b).

Exemption (c) – The Privacy Exemption, as it relates to materials relating to a specifically named individual, the disclosure of which may constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (c).

Exemption (d) – The Deliberative Process Exemption, provides a limited executive privilege for policy development. It applies to: inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters relating to policy positions being developed by the agency; but this sub clause shall not apply to reasonably completed factual studies or reports on which the development of such policy positions has been or may be based. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (d).

Exemption (e) – Employee’s Personal Notebooks, 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. This category does not include materials that are created by virtue of an individual’s public office. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (e).

Exemption (f) – The investigatory Exemption, provides custodians a basis for withholding: investigatory materials necessarily compiled out of the public view by law enforcement or other investigatory officials the disclosure of which materials would probably so prejudice the possibility of effective law enforcement that such disclosure would not be in the public interest. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (f).

Exemption (g) – applies to: trade secrets or commercial or financial information voluntarily provided to an agency for use in developing governmental policy and upon a promise of confidentiality; but this sub clause shall not apply to information submitted as required by law or as a condition of receiving a governmental contract or other benefit. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (g).

Exemption (h) - serves to protect the integrity of the bidding processes used by the government to procure goods and services by allowing a records custodian to withhold the proposals of early bidders from other interested parties. The exemption allows government officials to review bids and proposals in an insulated environment, but also provides for public review of all evaluative materials once a decision is reached. Competitive bidding ensures full publicity of the contract and encourages the guarding of the public welfare. Although the competitive bidding process does not have the advantages of more flexible purchasing policies, the legislature has mandated the process to foster honesty and accountability in government. Specifically, Exemption (h) applies to: proposals and bids to enter into any contract or agreement until the time for the opening of bids in the case of proposals or bids to be opened publicly, and until the time for the receipt of bids or proposals has expired in all other cases; and inter-agency or intra-agency communications made in connection with an evaluation process for reviewing bids or proposals, prior to a decision to enter into negotiations with or to award a contract to, a particular person. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (h).

Exemption (i) - to provide governmental entities engaged in the acquisition of real property, either through a purchase or an eminent domain proceeding, the same degree of confidentiality that is afforded to private parties. The exemption ensures that the government will not be at a bargaining disadvantage by allowing the other party to use the Public Records Law to gain access to an appraisal prior to completion of negotiations or litigation. Exemption (i) applies to: appraisals of real property acquired or to be acquired until (1) a final agreement is entered into; or (2) any litigation relative to such appraisal has been terminated; or (3) the time within which to commence such litigation has expired. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (i).

Exemption (j) - allows records custodians of firearm records to withhold: the names and addresses of any persons contained in, or referred to in, any applications for any licenses to carry or possess firearms issued pursuant to chapter one hundred and forty or any firearms identification cards issued pursuant to said chapter one hundred and forty and the names and addresses on sales or transfers of any firearms, rifles, shotguns, or machine guns or ammunition therefor, as defined in said chapter one hundred and forty and the names and addresses on said licenses or cards. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (j).

No Exemption (k) - Repealed, 1988 Mass Acts 180, § 2. Although Exemption (k) was repealed, the legislature retained the substance of the exemption, incorporating the language into another section of the General Laws. It reads: “... [T]hat part of the records of a public library which reveals the identity and intellectual pursuits of a person using such library shall not be a public record as defined by clause Twenty-sixth of section seven of chapter four.”

G. L. c. 78, § 7 operates through Exemption (a) of the Public Records Law to provide a basis for denying access to library circulation records.

Exemption (l) - provides a basis for withholding from disclosure: questions and answers, scoring keys and sheets and other materials used to develop, administer or score a test, examination or assessment instrument; provided, however, that such materials are intended to be used for another test, examination or assessment instrument. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (l).

Exemption (m) - applies to: contracts for hospital or related health care services between (i) any hospital, clinic or other health care facility operated by a unit of state, county or municipal government and (ii) a health maintenance organization arrangement approved under chapter one hundred and seventy-six I, a nonprofit hospital service corporation or medical service corporation organized pursuant to chapter one hundred and seventy-six A and chapter one hundred and seventy-six B, respectively, a health insurance corporation licensed under chapter one hundred and seventy-five or any legal entity that is self-insured and provides health care benefits to its employees. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (m).

Exemption (n) applies to: records, including, but not limited to, blueprints, plans, policies, procedures and schematic drawings, which relate to internal layout and structural elements, security measures, emergency preparedness, threat or vulnerability assessments, or any other records relating to the security or safety of persons or buildings, structures, facilities, utilities, transportation, cyber security or other infrastructure located within the commonwealth, the disclosure of which, in the reasonable judgment of the record custodian, subject to review by the supervisor of public records under subsection (c) of section 10 of chapter 66, is likely to jeopardize public safety or cyber security. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (n).

Exemption (o) applies to: the home address, personal email address and home telephone number of an employee of the judicial branch, an unelected employee of the general court, an agency, executive office, department, board, commission, bureau, division or authority of the commonwealth, or of a political subdivision thereof or of an authority established by the general court to serve a public purpose, in the custody of a government agency which maintains records identifying persons as falling within those categories; provided that the information may be disclosed to an employee organization under chapter 150E, a nonprofit organization for retired public employees under chapter 180, or a criminal justice agency as defined in section 167 of chapter 6. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (n).

Exemption (p) applies to: the name, home address, personal email address and home telephone number of a family member of a commonwealth employee, contained in a record in the custody of a government agency which maintains records identifying persons as falling within the categories listed in sub clause (o). MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (p).

Exemption (q) allows for the withholding of: Adoption contact information and indices herefore of the adoption contact registry established by section 31 of chapter 46. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (q).

Exemption (r) applies to: Information and records acquired under chapter 18C by the office of the child advocate. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (r).

Exemption (s) applies to: 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 section 1F of chapter 164, in the course of activities conducted as a municipal aggregator under section 134 of said chapter 164 or in the course of activities conducted by a cooperative consisting of governmental entities organized pursuant to section 136 of said chapter 164, when such governmental body, municipal aggregator or cooperative determines that such disclosure will adversely affect its ability to conduct business in relation to other entities making, selling or distributing electric power and energy; provided, however, that this sub clause shall not exempt a public entity from disclosure required of a private entity so licensed. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (s).

Exemption (t) applies to: statements filed under section 20C of chapter 32. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (t). (Members of public retirement boards are required by statute to file a statement of financial interest with the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission. The statement of financial interest document is exempt from disclosure under Exemption (t)

Exemption (u) applies to: 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. MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (u).

 
 
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