Galvin orders T to release Green Line ext. report
Secretary of State says agency can’t claim attorney-client privilege
THE SECRETARY OF STATE HAS ORDERED the MBTA to release a sealed consultant’s report on the botched Green Line extension, saying the embattled agency could not withhold the document because of attorney-client privilege or a separate “deliberative process” exemption under the Public Records Law.
The decision came in the wake of two appeals filed under the Public Records Law after the T refused to release the report. The T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board gave a broad outline of the report by Berkeley Research Group, a consulting firm that analyzed why the cost of the Green Line extension went from an estimated $1.99 billion to nearly $3 billion. According to the presentation, the price skyrocketed in part because of a new bidding process that was based on selecting the contractor first and agreeing on price later. The consultants said the contractor “worked the system” to its own advantage.
The new price tag of the Green Line extension caught state transportation officials completely off-guard, resulting in the termination of the contractor and other firms associated with the initial bid. On Monday, T officials were hopeful they would have a new, scaled-back plan in place by May with a lower price.
MBTA officials denied requests for the full report, claiming the consultant’s report was launched on the advice of counsel and was protected by attorney-client privilege. In a follow-up letter, the T sent an unsigned letter claiming the report was also being withheld under an exemption in the Public Records Law that allows agencies to refuse requests if the documents are being used in the “deliberative process” to assist in forming policy.
Jacqueline Goddard, director of communications for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said she is looking into whether the report will be released and when. If the T refuses to release the report, Galvin’s office could refer the matter to Attorney General Maura Healey for action. In the last year, there have been more than 1,300 appeals of records request denials filed with the Secretary of State; only one case, involving the Fall River police, has been referred to the attorney general.