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Open Meeting Law Guide
Purpose of the Law
The purpose of the Open Meeting Law is to ensure transparency in the deliberations on which public policy is based. Because the democratic process depends on the public having knowledge about the considerations underlying governmental action, the Open Meeting Law requires, with some exceptions, that meetings of public bodies be open to the public. It also seeks to balance the public’s interest in witnessing the deliberations of public officials with the government’s need to manage its operations efficiently.

Attorney General’s Authority

The Open Meeting Law was revised as part of the 2009 Ethics Reform Bill, and now centralizes responsibility for statewide enforcement of the law in the Attorney General’s Office. G.L. c. 30A, § 19(a). To help public bodies understand and comply with the law, the Attorney General has created the Division of Open Government. The Division of Open Government provides training, responds to inquiries, investigates complaints, and when necessary, makes findings and orders remedial action to address violations of the law. The purpose of this Guide is to inform elected and appointed members of public bodies, as well as the interested public, of the basic requirements of the law.

Certification

Within two weeks of a member’s election or appointment or the taking of the oath of office, whichever occurs later, all members of public bodies must complete the attached Certificate of Receipt of Open Meeting Law Materials certifying that they have received these materials, and that they understand the requirements of the Open Meeting Law and the consequences of violating it. The certification must be retained where the public body maintains its official records. All public body members should familiarize themselves with the Open Meeting Law, the Attorney General’s regulations, and this Guide.

In the event a Certificate has not yet been completed by a presently serving member of a public body, the member should complete and submit the Certificate at the earliest opportunity to be considered in compliance with the law.

Open Meeting Law Website

This Guide is intended to be a clear and concise explanation of the Open Meeting Law’s requirements. The complete law, as well as the Attorney General’s regulations, training materials, and determinations and declinations as to complaints can be found on the Attorney General’s Open Meeting website, www.mass.gov/ago/openmeeting. Members of public bodies, other local and state government officials, and the public are Open Meeting Law Guide Page 3 Version 3.18.15

encouraged to visit the website regularly for updates on the law and the Attorney General’s interpretations of it.