What records of public meetings must be kept?

Public bodies are required to create and maintain accurate minutes of all meetings, including executive sessions. The minutes, which must be created and approved in a timely manner, must include:

  • the date, time and place of the meeting;
  • the members present or absent;
  • the decisions made and actions taken, including a record of all votes;
  • a summary of the discussions on each subject;
  • a list of all documents and exhibits used at the meeting; and
  • the name of any member who participated in the meeting remotely, along with the reason under 940 CMR 29.10(5) for his or her remote participation.

While the minutes must include a summary of the discussions on each subject, a transcript is not required. No vote taken by a public body, either in an open or in an executive session, shall be by secret ballot. All votes taken in executive session must be by roll call and the results recorded in the minutes. While public bodies must identify in the minutes all documents and exhibits used at a meeting and must retain them in accordance with the Secretary of State's records retention schedule, these documents and exhibits needn't be attached to or physically stored with the minutes.

and release the minutes, if appropriate, no later than its next meeting or within 30 days, whichever occurs first. In such circumstances, the body should still respond to the request within 10 days, notifying the requester that it is conducting this review.