Time to Fix our Broken Public Records Law
Transparency in government is the cornerstone to a strong democracy. It checks corruption, promotes fiscal responsibility and efficiency, and allows for greater, more meaningful participation in our democratic system.
In November, the Center for Public Integrity released a report that gave the Commonwealth an F on public access to government information for the second time in a row.
Organizations, reporters, watchdogs, and regular citizens who wish to see and review public documents are frequently unable to do so, prevented by outright denials, excessive charges, records in useless formats, and long delays in which the requested records never materialize or do so in an untimely manner. The public records law hasn't been substantially updated since 1973.
MASSPIRG is working to improve our Public Records Law by giving courts the ability to enforce the law by awarding attorney fees to those wrongly denied access to public records, bringing Massachusetts in line with forty-seven other states. In addition we must set strict limits on how much government agencies can charge for public record information, and set reasonable time-frames for responses to public records requests.