Quick Guide to the MA Open Meeting Law – Part 3 of 3



Accurate minutes must be created, approved & maintained in a timely manner for all public body meetings, including executive sessions.  The record must specify:Open Meeting Records

  • Date, time, and place of the meeting
  • Members present, members absent, & members participating remotely along with the reason for remote participation
  • Decisions made, actions taken, and a record of all votes
    • No votes can be by secret ballot
    • Executive session votes must be by roll call & results must be recorded in the minutes
    • The documents & other exhibits used at the meeting

The minutes, documents, and exhibits are part of the meeting’s official record and are public records.  The Open Meeting Law and/or Public Records Law govern retention and disclosure requirements.


Minutes must be created & approved in a timely manner, and approved or draft minutes must be available to the public within 10 days upon request.  Additionally, materials and other exhibits used by the public body in the meeting must also be made available within 10 days upon request.

Exemptions.  There are two exemptions to the open session disclosure requirement:

  • Performance evaluation materials bearing on an individual’s professional competence
  • Applications & supporting materials used in deliberations about employment or appointment of individuals

Performance evaluation documents created by members of the public body are subject to disclosure.


Records of an executive session are not subject to public disclosure if it would defeat the lawful purpose of the executive session.  Such non-disclosure, however, is not perpetual.  Public bodies must periodically review executive session records to determine if continued non-disclosure is warranted, and their determination must be included in the minutes of their next meeting.

Upon request to inspect or copy executive session records, the public body must respond and release the records promptly if they have been deemed subject to disclosure.  If the public body has made no decision regarding disclosure, it must do so by its next meeting or within 30 days, whichever occurs first.

About the Author:  Elizabeth Tice heads up OfficeSolutionsPlusLLC.com, where we provide documents of record for all venues, including Open Meetings, Administrative meetings, executive sessions, court reporting, depositions and public hearings, and transcription of all types.  We understand the importance and value of accurate records.  617-471-3510. Try us out!


The preceding is Part 3 of a three part summary-reference series, the OS+ Quick Guide to Massachusetts’ Open Meeting Law.  The topics addressed in the series are:

This Quick Guide is intended for summary reference only and does not purport to comprehensively address all aspects of this law.  For additional and complete details on the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, readers are directed to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s website: http://www.mass.gov/ago/government-resources/open-meeting-law/


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