MA Public Records Policy Order

COUNCILLOR MAZEN

 

Whereas: The Massachusetts Public Records Law (MPRL) is intended to encourage transparency in government affairs; and

 

Whereas: The current IT infrastructure makes the process of retrieving and redacting records costly, inefficient, and potentially onerous for City staff attempting to fulfil requests; and

 

Whereas: The City has recently asked requesters to pay thousands of dollars in costs, both to retrieve records from the City’s storage systems, and for the City to review those records prior to release; and

 

Whereas: The Law encourages requests specifically noted for public benefit to have associated fees waived [950 CMR 32.06(5)]; and

 

Whereas: The Law requires compliance with public records request both “as soon as practicable” and also within ten calendar days; and

 

Whereas: A streamlined, internal, electronic method of processing data about correspondence and policy in response to Massachusetts Public Records Law would ensure efficiency, feasibility, and transparency; and

 

Whereas: Such a system would also allow for completed requests to be shared through an open data portal, similar to a solution in place in Oakland, California; and

 

Whereas: Research into the most common requests under the Massachusetts Public Records Law would streamline both redaction, as well as the gathering of records if implemented into a database; now therefore be it

 

Ordered: The City Manager be and hereby is requested to examine ways to streamline both the City’s process and the City’s technology for replying to Massachusetts Public Records Law requests; and be it further

 

Ordered:  The City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the Information Technology Department on ways to ensure that records retrieval is efficiently handled and automated whenever possible; and be it further

 

Ordered: The City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to research both the most commonly found and most arduous Massachusetts Public Records Law requests and establish a protocol to redact them upon data entry when possible; and be it further

 

Ordered: The City Manager be and hereby is requested to examine how major cities’ open data and FOIA requests are handled, including options for a full time data management team including representatives of the City Clerk’s office, the City Solicitor’s office, and IT, working side by side; and be it further

 

Ordered: The City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the council on this matter.

 

  • commented 2014-11-23 23:57:32 -0500
    Great work on this, Nadeem and team. I will look into getting this passed for Somerville.

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