Governor Baker Introduces New Procedures for Public Records Requests
Guidance aims to increase transparency by reducing costs, streamlining responsiveness
Governor Charlie Baker today announced for the first time administration-wide measures to improve transparency and public access to government records and information, including a reduced and streamlined fee structure and more efficient communications and responses to requesters. The new procedures announced today and outlined in a memo to Cabinet Secretaries will be implemented over the coming weeks.
“We are proud to undertake this important step towards increasing the public’s access to information and shedding further light on the government that their tax dollars fund,” said Governor Baker. “These new measures reduce costs and make the public records request process more uniform and timely, increasing government’s public accountability, openness and transparency.”;
The procedures being implemented by the Baker-Polito Administration in accordance with best practices from around the nation, seek to comply with and exceed the requirements under the existing public records law to more diligently respond to the number of public records requests while reducing delays and costs to requesters and continuing to protect the personal information of taxpayers and service users.
MassIT is additionally in the process of implementing over the next year, e-mail search capabilities for Executive Branch agencies to ease the fulfilling of broad based email searches.
Improving Government Transparency:
· Secretariats and agencies will designate a Records Access Officer (RAO) to receive and coordinate requests and establish an internal tracking system to ensure compliance with the administration’s public records policy and existing law. RAO’s contact information will be posted on an agency’s website along with helpful instructions for submitting public records requests.
· To improve communications with the public, secretariats and agencies through their RAO will notify a requester within 5 days if the records they are seeking may take more than 10 days and/or $10 to produce. Requests should be fulfilled in no more than eight weeks, with any extension being explained to a requester in writing.
· Secretariats and agencies will regularly make available frequently requested information and/or records on their website and provide information as able, in electronic, searchable formats.
· The administration will waive search and retrieval fees for standard public records requests, provide at no cost the first 4 hours of work required for more complex requests, and charge no more than $25 per hour for additional time required and notify the requester of those costs in advance.
· The administration will implement standardized production costs in response to public records requests, and in the interest of cost savings and environmental purposes, fulfill requests electronically as able.
o Electronic Copies: No charge for duplication*
o 1-4 precisely defined documents: No charge**
o Black and White Hard Copies: 10 cents per page for single- and double-sided copies.
o Color Hard Copies: 50 cents per page
*Costs for discs, thumb-drives or other storage devices necessary to transmit requested documents still apply.
Governor Baker Named Chairman of NGA Health and Human Services Committee
Governor Charlie Baker was named the Chairman of the National Governors Association (NGA) Health and Human Services Committee by NGA Chairman Governor Gary Herbert (R-Utah) and NGA Vice Chairman Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-Virginia).
“I’m honored and excited to take on this position, using my personal background and Massachusetts’ role as a national leader in healthcare, to share ideas and policies with other states on effectively improving the delivery of care and services we provide to our most vulnerable,” said Governor Baker.
The Health and Human Services Committee handles issues dealing with health care, particularly as they relate to Medicaid, and federal-state safety net programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other social services. Members of the committee ensure that the governors’ views are represented in the shaping of federal policy.
In February, Governor Baker was elected the Vice Chairman of the Coalition of Northeast Governors (CONEG).
About the National Governors Association (NGA):
Founded in 1908, NGA is the collective voice of the nation’s governors and one of Washington, D.C.’s most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 55 states, territories and commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices. For more information, visit www.nga.org.