The Commonweath of Massachusetts recently updated the public records law to assure citizens of our Commonwealth transparency and access to government. The Office of Public Affairs oversees the University’s compliance with the law.
Commonly requested public records
Frequently asked questions
What are public records?
- Only existing identifiable records are public records.
- The law does not require the creation of new records to respond to a public records request.
Where do I send a public records request?
Many public records are already available online and you may do a quick search of our database.
The best way to file a public records request is by filing out the online public records request form.
You may also send your request via email to email@example.com or by regular mail to:
Office of Public Affairs
ATTN: Public Records Access Officer
Foster Administration Building – Room 319
28 Old Westport Rd.
Dartmouth, MA 02747
The current Public Records Access Officer is:
Acting Director of Media Relations
What kind of information do I need to include?
Your public records request should include the following information:
- Contact information – your name, mailing address and telephone number. Feel free to include any other information you may feel to be useful, such as your e-mail, fax or cell phone number.
- A description of the specific records being requested. The request must be specific enough for the University to be able to identify the records being requested.
- If the request is not clear, the University may request clarification.
- If the requester fails to clarify, the University need not continue processing the request.
Is there a cost associated with filing a public records request?
The University may charge up to $25 per hour – after the first four hours – for the compiling of records in response to a request.
What kind of response should be expected?
Within 10 days of receiving your request, the University will respond in writing and include the following:
- Confirmation of receipt of the request .
- Identification of any record that is not held or maintained by the University.
- Identification of the agency or municipality that may hold those records sought, if known.
- Identification of any known records that the University intends to withhold, citing the law’s specific exemptions.
- Identification of the records the University intends to produce.
- If the records cannot be produced within 10 days, a detailed statement explaining why.
- If applicable, suggestions of reasonable modifications of the scope of the request to reduce the time and cost to produce the records.
- An itemized, good-faith estimate of any fees that may be charged.
- A statement informing the requestor of the right to appeal the response to the Supervisor of Public Records, and the right to seek judicial review of an unfavorable decision.
What if the records requested are not public records?
The University always starts out with the assumption that the information requested is public. However, the law exempts certain records from disclosure. These exemptions can be found at: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/pre/prepdf/guide.pdf.
Can the University seek additional time to respond to a request?
Oftentimes, complex requests may require more than 10 days to compile and review. In such cases the University will ask the requestor for an extension. If the requestor does not agree, the University will file a request for an extension with the Supervisor of Public Records.
Is there additional guidance available?
The Supervisor of Public Records for the Secretary of State has issued regulations, which are available at http://www.sec.state.ma.us/pre/prepdf/950-CMR-32-00-2017-Edition.pdf.
Can you keep my request for records confidential?
No, your public records request is not a confidential record. Your request is itself a public record. It can be requested by others and the office forwards public records requests to the departments holding records and to third parties who have an interest in the records you have requested.