950 CMR 32.06 - Rights of Access

(1) Requests for Public Records.
(a) requests for public records may be made orally, in person, to a records access officer or custodian, or may be written. Telephone requests may be accepted at the discretion of the records access officer.
(b) requests for public records shall include a reasonable description of the requested record to the records access officer so that the records can be identified and located promptly.
(c) written requests may be delivered by a requester to the business address or designated website or email address of a records access officer or custodian:
1. by hand;
2. by mail;
3. electronically; or
4. by facsimile, if custodian has facsimile access.
(d) a records access officer shall not require a particular form be used by requesters, but may make forms available for requesters.
(e) a person shall not be required to make a personal inspection of the record prior to receiving a copy.
(f) calculation of time will commence only for requests that are made in accordance with 950 CMR 32.06(1).
(2) Records Access Officer Response to Requests for Records.
(a) a records access officer or designee shall permit inspection or provide or furnish a copy of all public records within the custody and control of the custodian at reasonable times and without unreasonable delay under M.G.L. c. 66, § 10(a).
(b) if applicable, a records access officer shall provide a written response under M.G.L. c. 66, § 10(b) to a request for public records no later than the tenth business day following the receipt of a request notwithstanding the applicability of any petition filed pursuant to 950 CMR 32.06(4).
(c) a records access officer shall not charge a fee for the provision of a public record unless the records access officer responded to the requester within ten business days following receipt of the request under M.G.L. c. 66, § 10(b).
(d) if a records access officer intends to provide records, access to such records must be provided no later than the tenth business day following the receipt of a request, unless an extension of time is permitted in a manner consistent with 950 CMR 32.06(2)(i) and (4).
(e) if a request is received on a Saturday, Sunday, legal holiday or day when the custodian's office is unexpectedly closed, the receipt will be deemed received on the following business day.
(f) a records access officer may delay provision of records until all fees related to such requests are paid in full by the person seeking access to the requested records in accordance with 950 CMR 32.07.
(g) a records access officer shall, when appropriate, suggest a reasonable modification of the scope of the request or offer to assist the requester to modify the scope of the request if doing so would enable the agency or municipality to produce records sought more efficiently and affordably.
(h) a records access officer may not require the requester to specify the purpose for a request except:
1. to determine whether the records are requested for a commercial purpose; or
2. to determine whether to grant a request for a fee waiver.
(i) a records access officer shall identify a reasonable timeframe in which it shall produce the public records sought in a manner consistent with M.G.L. c. 66, § 10(b)(vi), provided that the requester may voluntarily agree to a response date beyond these timeframes.
(3) Denial by Records Access Officer.
(a) a records access officer shall provide written notice by first class mail or electronic mail to a requester of any denial of access to records.
(b) a records access officer shall provide such written notice of denial of access within ten business days following receipt of a request for public records in accordance with 950 CMR 32.06(2)(b).
(c) such written notice of denial shall include:
1. the date of the request;
2. identification of any records sought that are not within the possession, custody, or control of the agency or municipality the records access officer serves;
3. identification of the agency or municipality that may be in possession, custody or control of the public record sought, if known to the records access officer;
4. identification of any records, categories of records or portions of records that the agency or municipality intends to withhold;
5. identification of any specific exemption to the Public Records Law or common law privilege that applies to the withhold record or records;
6. identification of the applicability of each cited exemption or privilege to each portion of the withheld record or records;
7. identification of any portions of responsive records that the agency or municipality intends to produce; and
8. a statement informing the requester of the right of administrative appeal to the Supervisor under 950 CMR 32.08(1) and the right to seek judicial review of an unfavorable decision by commencing a civil action in the superior court.
(d) where a record has been withheld based on a claim of the attorney-client privilege the records access officer shall provide in its written denial a detailed description of the record, including the names of the author and recipients, and in general terms, the subject matter of the withheld information.
(4) Petition for Modification or Waiver by a Records Access Officer to the Supervisor.
(a) petitions requesting an extension of time to furnish copies of the requested records or waive statutory limits to fees from a records access officer to the Supervisor shall be in writing and delivered to the Supervisor in accordance with 950 CMR 32.03(1). A copy of the petition shall be provided by the records access officer to the requester. The Supervisor shall issue a written determination with findings regarding any such petition within five business days following receipt of a records access officer petition.
(b) petitions filed under 950 CMR 32.06(4) do not affect the requirement that a records access officer shall provide an initial response to a requester within ten business days following receipt of a request for public records, pursuant to 950 CMR 32.06(2)(a) or (b). Failure to comply with 950 CMR 32.06(4) will result in a waiver of the right to assess fees for public records.
(c) all such petitions shall be considered public records both in the custody of the records access officer and the Supervisor.
(d) petitions seeking an extension of time to furnish copies of the requested records must be made by a records access officer within 20 business days following receipt of a request for public records, or within ten business days following the records access officer's receipt of a determination by the Supervisor that a requested record constitutes a public record.
(e) a petition for extension of time described in 950 CMR 32.06(4)(d) shall include a brief narrative detailing why an extension of time is necessary. Upon a showing of good cause, the Supervisor may grant a single extension. For an agency, such extension may not exceed 20 business days from the date of the grant of the extension by the Supervisor. For a municipality, such extension may not exceed 30 business days from the date of the grant of the extension by the Supervisor.
(f) if, when reviewing a petition for extension of time described in 950 CMR 32.06(4)(d), the Supervisor determines that the request is part of a series of contemporaneous requests that are frivolous or designed to intimidate or harass, and the requests are not intended for the broad dissemination of information to the public about actual or alleged government activity, the Supervisor may grant a longer extension or relieve the custodian of its obligation to provide copies of the records sought.
(g) petitions seeking a waiver of statutory limits to fees assessed to segregate and/or redact public records must be made within ten business days following receipt of a request for public records.
(h) a petition seeking a waiver of statutory limits to fees described in 950 CMR 32.06(4)(g) must be made in accordance with the following:
1. any records access officer may petition the Supervisor to charge for time spent segregating or redacting records.
2. only a municipal records access officer may petition the Supervisor for permission to charge fees in excess of the maximum hourly rate of $25 per hour for time required to comply with a request.
3. records access officers shall not petition the Supervisor seeking a waiver associated with the provisions of 950 CMR 32.07(2)(l)1. and (m)1.
4. a records access officer shall respond to a request within five business days of receipt of the Supervisor's determination regarding a petition submitted under 950 CMR 32.06(4)(g).

Notes

950 CMR 32.06
Amended by Mass Register Issue 1314, eff. 2/29/2016. Amended by Mass Register Issue 1328, eff. 1/1/2017. Amended by Mass Register Issue 1445, eff. 6/11/2021.

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