Section 17A: Public assistance records; public inspection; destruction
Section 17A. The records of the department of transitional assistance, relative to all public assistance, and the records of the commission for the blind relative to aid to the blind, shall be public records; provided that they shall be open to inspection only by public officials of the commonwealth, which term shall include members of the general court, representatives of the federal government and those responsible for the preparation of annual budgets for such public assistance, the making of recommendations relative to such budgets, or the approval or authorization of payments for such assistance, or for any purposes directly connected with the administration of such public assistance or with the administration of chapter 118E or with the administration of child support enforcement under chapter one hundred and nineteen A, including the use of said records in set-off debt collections under chapter sixty-two D, and including the use of said records by the department of transitional assistance, in concert with related wage reports to ascertain or confirm any fraud, abuse or improper payments to an applicant for or recipient of public assistance; and provided, further, that data from said records may be made available to representatives of the department of education and local school committees solely for the purpose of targeting school attendance areas with the largest concentrations of low income children pursuant to 20 USC 2701 et seq. and that such access shall be supervised by the department of transitional assistance and the department of education in accordance with an interagency agreement between said departments that safeguards confidentiality; and provided, further, that information relative to the record of an applicant for public assistance or a recipient thereof may be disclosed to him or his duly authorized agent; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit disclosure to or access by the bureau of special investigations to the department's records or files for the purposes of fraud detection and control. The state police, including the state police violent fugitive arrest squad, and local police departments, shall also be provided with identifying and locating information upon request from the department's records or files for the sole purpose of identifying and locating individuals wanted on default or arrest warrants. Only identifying information including, but not limited to, the name, date of birth, all pertinent addresses, telephone number and social security number of such individuals shall be made available to the state police and local police departments pursuant to this section. The commonwealth shall destroy public assistance records ten years after the discontinuance of aid granted under the provisions of chapter sixty-nine, one hundred and seventeen, one hundred and eighteen, one hundred and eighteen A, one hundred and eighteen D and one hundred and nineteen, in such manner as the commissioner or director may prescribe.