What to Do When Your Website and Notice of Meetings are Offline
A number of municipal websites throughout the Commonwealth recently were impacted by an outage. Municipalities that have designated their municipal website as the official method of posting meeting notices should be aware of how web outages affect the validity of the posting for purposes of complying with the Open Meeting Law. The Division of Open Government has developed guidance on how to address this issue.
If the website is inaccessible to the public within 48 hours of the meeting (not including weekends and legal holidays), the individual responsible for posting notice to the website (often the municipal clerk) must restore the website’s functionality within six business hours of the time when that individual discovers the website’s inaccessibility. If the website is not restored during this time, the meeting must be rescheduled to another date and time. A brief restoration of accessibility is not sufficient to re-start the six-hour window.
Municipalities that have designated their municipal website as the official method of posting meeting notices cannot use alternate methods of posting. Additionally, if the official town website links users to another site for the actual posting (e.g., a MyTownGovernment.org website), and the official town website suffers an outage, even if the notice is still accessible on the linked site, the Attorney General’s Office considers the entire notice down for purposes of Open Meeting Law compliance.