1. How do I find out when and where MassDOT Board meetings will be held?
Under the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, notice of all MassDOT Board meetings is provided to the Massachusetts Secretary of State and the Secretary of Administration and Finance no later than 48 hours prior to the meeting. It is available in those offices.
MassDOT has established a schedule for Board meetings for the remainder of 2011. Please check this site frequently as occasional scheduling changes occur. The MassDOT Board meetings are also added to the MassDOT website calendar.
2. How do I find out what is on the agenda for a MassDOT Board meeting?
The MassDOT Board Meeting agenda is published on the MassDOT website and in the calendar item for the Board meeting on the MassDOT website calendar. In addition, the agenda is provided to the State House News Service. The draft agenda is usually available approximately one week in advance of the meeting. Please note, however, that the Board may consider issues that were not listed on the agenda.
3. What type of items are handled in Executive Session and not the Open Meeting?
The Open Meeting Law sets forth certain limited circumstances in which it is permissible and appropriate for the Board to discuss matters in an executive session, which is closed to the public. The Open Meeting Law describes the specific purposes for which an executive session may be held. Of those, the following are the ones most frequently cited by the Board as the reason to go into executive session:
- to discuss strategy with respect to litigation if an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the litigating position of the Department
- to discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining if an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the bargaining position of the Department
- to discuss the deployment of security personnel or devices
- to investigate charges of criminal misconduct or to discuss the filing of criminal complaints
- to consider the purchase, exchange, lease or value of real property, if such discussions may have a detrimental effect on the negotiating position of the Department and a person, firm or corporation
The last category applies only to certain discussions regarding "real property" and does not apply to other types of contracts or contract negotiations.
4. How do I get copies of the minutes of the Board meeting?
A recording is made of each MassDOT Board Meeting. For each open session of the MassDOT Board, a copy of the recording is available shortly after the meeting.
A set of minutes is created from the recording and is usually available in draft form approximately two to four weeks after the meeting. The draft minutes are posted as draft on the MassDOT website when they are done. The final minutes are created after the Board votes to accept the draft minutes (with any changes), and a copy of the final minutes are also posted on the MassDOT website (they replace the draft minutes).
5. What information is included in the minutes?
The Open Meeting Law requires that the Board maintain accurate minutes of all its open session meetings. At a minimum, minutes must set forth the date, time, and place of the meeting, the identity of the Members present or absent, and all action taken. The Law also requires that accurate minutes be maintained for every executive session. The contents of the executive session minutes must mirror those required for open session meetings, with one additional requirement: every vote taken in executive session must be recorded in the minutes by "roll call".
6. May I get copies of documents that are presented to the MassDOT Board?
With the exception of certain documents presented to the Board in the context of Executive Session and documents subject to an exemption under the Public Records Law, all materials provided to the Board in order to assist in deciding a particular matter (known as Board Packets) are public documents and are available to any member of the public. Board members are given "final" Board Packets (with any last minute updates or changes to the materials) immediately prior to the Board Meetings. Some documents presented to the Board will be made available with the minutes on the MassDOT website. If public documents are not posted with the minutes due to size, etc., they will be made available to the public upon request.
7. Is any of the information discussed in Executive Session made available subsequently and where would we find it?
Although minutes of the open session of the Board meeting, as well as the public documents are available to the public upon request, the minutes of the Executive Session and the documents presented to the Board in the context of Executive Session may remain secret as long as publication would defeat the lawful purposes of the Executive Session.
8. May I speak at a MassDOT Board meeting?
Yes. There is a public comment period at the beginning of every MassDOT Board Meeting. Anyone interested in addressing the Board can sign up immediately before the meeting and anyone wishing to speak is called forward by the Chairperson once the Public Comment Period begins. Speakers are asked to identify themselves and speak clearly into the microphone as the meeting is recorded. Because of the length of the Board agenda and the desire to give all speakers an opportunity, the Chair may ask each speaker to limit his or her remarks to a few minutes.
The Board will also accept any written comments, before, during or after a Board Meeting. Any written comments should be sent to: The MassDOT Board of Directors, Ten Park Plaza, Suite 3910, Boston, MA 02116. If the written comments refer to a particular Board meeting or agenda item, the comments will be included in the official minutes for that meeting.
9. Must my comments concern an item on the agenda for the meeting?
Although the public comments should, whenever possible, address one or more items on the agenda for that particular meeting, if time permits, the Chair may allow a speaker to comment on matters that may not directly address an item on the agenda, but concerns MassDOT, the Board or transportation issues within the Commonwealth.
10. Is there someone I can call to discuss the availability of information about the Board?
Yes, you may contact the MassDOT Press Office at 617-973-8472.