Happy new year!
A new law to make public records easier to get went into effect today!
Starting January 1, 2017, new public records access officers will start working to provide you with public records quickly and easily. Since Charlie Baker’s office has been trying to keep the details of governor’s $118M cuts to the state budget a secret, I decided to ring in the new year by testing out the new law.
To request a document, you need to go to the appropriate agency—in this case it’s the Office of Administration and Finance—find the record access officer, and submit a letter. The law doesn’t specify how to write the letter, so I used a template from the State Secretary’s website.
It’s quick and easy to make the request yourself! Here’s what to do:
- Fill out this request form with your name and contact information.
- In the field Summary of the Request, answer:
A complete list of FY17 9C budget cuts by line item and earmark
- Open up Notepad (or Word or your favorite text editor) and copy and paste this letter into a new document. Replace parts in red with your personal information.
Executive Office for Administration & Finance
Attn: Records Access Officer
State House, Room 373
Boston, MA 02133
Re: Massachusetts Public Records Request
Dear Ms. Kim:
This is a request under the Massachusetts Public Records Law (M.G.L. Chapter 66, Section 10). I am requesting that I be provided a copy of the following records:
A complete listing of the FY17 9C budget cuts by line item and earmark.
The document entitled FY17 9C Line Item Listing posted under the FY17 Budget Savings Information in the Budget, Taxes, Procurement & Regulations section of the Administration and Finance website does not include a break-down of each cut by earmark. I am requesting a finer-grain document. Multiple constituent aides in the Governor’s office have confirmed by phone that such a document exists.
I recognize that you may charge reasonable costs for copies, as well as for personnel time needed to comply with this request. If you expect costs to exceed $10.00, please provide a detailed fee estimate.
The Public Records Law requires you to provide me with a written response within 10 business days. If you cannot comply with my request, you are statutorily required to provide an explanation in writing.
[Your Mailing Address]
[Your Telephone Number]
[Your Email Address]
- Upload the letter you just made in the section that says Upload full PRR document.
- Click Make Request.
- Call the Office of Administration and Finance at (617) 727-2040 to confirm they received your request.
Here’s a quick script:
Happy new year! My name is Joshua Reyes and I live in Cambridge, MA. I’m calling to check on the status of my public record request.
Can you tell me the status of my request for a complete listing of financial year 2017 9C budget cuts by line item and earmark?
Thank you and have a good day!
It is possible that Charlie Baker’s office will deny the public record request. If they continue to hide the details of Charlie Baker’s massive $118M cuts to the state budget, they will be required under law to explain why they will not give you the information. And then we can appeal! (Here’s a guide to the public records law from start to finish.)
Let me know how it goes! I’ll do the same.