Effective January 1, 2017, the Massachusetts Public Records Law, G.L. c.66 and c.4, §7(26), requires a response within 10 business days (Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays), to a request for records by providing either access to (or a copy of such) records or an explanation of any delay or denial. These guidelines are intended to assist members of the public who are seeking access to public records that are in the custody of the Franklin Regional Transit Authority (FRTA).
Business Hours. The regular business hours of the FRTA are Monday-Friday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Records Access Officers
The following Records Access Officer (“RAO”) has been designated:
Tina M. Cote, Administrator
Greenfield, MA 01301
12 Olive Street
The Records Access Officer is available to answer questions and to help facilitate the making of public records requests.
Making Public Records Requests:
Any person may make a public records request by completing this form and returning to the FRTA:
Although not required, it is strongly encouraged that public records requests be in writing to ensure the most efficient and accurate response. All written public records requests, including via email and facsimile, shall be addressed/directed to the RAO, and contain the requester’s name and contact information so that the RAO is able to provide the required response.
Individuals making in-person requests will not be requested or required to give their names or contact information. For in-person requests that require additional time for a comprehensive response, requesters will be advised to check in periodically with the RAO or requesters may voluntarily provide contact information. Voluntary Public Records Request Forms shall be available in FRTA Office and are available at www.frta.org.
To facilitate timely responses to public records requests, requests should be as specific as possible detailing, if known, records custodian(s), date and subject matter parameters. The more specific the request, the better able the FRTA will be to respond, as broad requests often require more extensive staff efforts to locate, review and copy all possibly responsive records.
Written requests received during normal business hours, as defined in paragraph 1 above, will be considered received on that date. Written requests sent via email or facsimile after normal business hours shall not be considered received until the following business day. Business days shall not include Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays.
The RAO will not ask a requester to identify the purpose of the request, but may ask for more information to assist the requester in making make an appropriate request, and/or to enable the RAO to respond more efficiently.
Responses to Public Records Requests
If fees will be assessed, a written estimate of the same will be provided to the requester.
If a full response, including provision of records, cannot be made within 10 business days of receipt of the request the RAO will respond to the requester in writing explaining the anticipated time frame for complete response; identifying any records that the FRTA does not have in its custody; identifying records which the FRTA does not expect will be provided, or that will be redacted, specifying the relevant exemption and its application to the requested record or portion thereof; providing a good faith fee estimate; and including a statement of appeal rights.
Depending upon the scope of the request, the requester may be asked to clarify the request, provide more specific detail and/or agree to a voluntary extension of time for the FRTA to respond fully to the request.
Typically, a complete response will be provided within twenty-five(25) business days of receipt of the requests. If, the FRTA is concerned that it will not be able to provide a complete response within that time frame, the FRTA may ask the requester for an extension of time to comply or petition the Supervisor of Public Records for additional time.
The FRTA maintains a searchable website where certain public records are available for inspection, downloading or printing. If a request seeks documents publicly available on the FRTA’s website, the requester will be directed to the website in satisfaction of the request unless the requester does not have the ability to receive or access the records in a usable electronic form.
To the extent feasible, the RAO will provide public records in response to a request by electronic means unless the record is not available electronically or the requester does not have the ability to receive or access the records electronically. To the extent available and feasible, the RAO will provide an electronic record in the requester’s preferred format.
Should a requester seek to have responsive records provided by mail, the requester will be charged the actual cost of postage, using the least expensive form of mailing possible; unless the requester requests and agrees to pay for an expedited form of mailing and such fees are paid in advance.
The FRTA is only required to provide records that are in existence at the time of a request and is not required to create a new record to accommodate a specific request.
The FRTA is not required to answer questions in response to a public records request.
The FRTA is not required to supplement its response to a previous public records request in the event that responsive records are created in the future.
Pursuant to the provisions of 950 CMR 32.06(1)(g) , if a requester or requester’s representative (such as an attorney) has “a unique right of access by statutory, regulatory, judicial or other applicable means” a request for records will not be considered a G.L. c.66, §10 public records request.
Categories of Records
Some public records, or portions of records, may not be provided in response to a public records request because the FRTA has determined such records to be exempt from disclosure pursuant to the provisions of G.L. c.4, §7(26), the attorney-client privilege, or other applicable exemptions or common law privileges. For more information about exemptions to the Public Records Law, see the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s, “A Guide to the Massachusetts Public Records Law,” January 2017 edition, available at www.sec.state.ma.us/pre/prepdf/guide.pdf
In some circumstances, the FRTA may assess a reasonable fee for the production of public records.
Permissible charges include, but are not limited to:
There shall be no fee for the employee time required to satisfy a public records request for the first two (2) hours of work performed.
Said fee limitations may not apply when a request for records is for a commercial purpose as determined by the Commonwealth’s Supervisor of Records.
In certain circumstances, the FRTA may petition the Supervisor of Public Records for permission to assess fees for employee time at a rate in excess of $25.00.
If a requester wishes to assert a claim that they have been denied access to public records, they may appeal the RAO’s determination to the Supervisor of Records pursuant to 950CMR 32.08(1). The Supervisor shall make a final determination on the appeal within ten(10) business days of receipt.
If the requester is dissatisfied with the determination of the Supervisor of Records the requester may appeal to Superior Court. Alternatively, a requester may bypass the Supervisor and go directly to Superior Court.
For further information on appeals, see the Secretary of the Commonwealths “A Guide to the Massachusetts Public Records Law,” January 2017 edition, available at www.sec.state.ma.us/pre/prepdf/guide.pdf
Available Public Records