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The Oregon form of government requires an informed public aware of the deliberations and decisions of governing bodies and the information upon which such decisions were made. It is the intent of the Public Meetings Law that decisions of governing bodies be arrived at openly.
The Public Meetings Law authorizes governing bodies to meet in executive session in certain limited situations. Executive sessions are "any meeting or part of a meeting of a governing body which is closed to certain persons for deliberation on certain matters." [ORS192.610(2)]. Meetings held in executive session are subject to Public Meetings Law.
The Oregon Government Ethics Commission (OGEC) has jurisdiction over the executive session provisions of Oregon Public Meetings Law. These provisions cover the reasons a governing/public body may enter into an executive session
and the process requirements.
A governing body meeting in executive
session must return to public session
before taking final action. This
requirement cannot be circumvented by
simply announcing, in executive session,
that the meeting is now open, and then
proceeding without affording interested
persons a chance to attend. If a public
meeting will be held again after the
executive session, the desirable practice
would be to announce, before the
executive session, a specific time for
returning to open session. Otherwise,
reasonable means must be used to give
actual notice to interested persons that the
meeting is again a public meeting. If the
executive session has been short, it may
be sufficient to open the door and
announce to persons in the hall that the
meeting is open to the public. But clearly,
returning to an unscheduled and
unannounced “open session,” for which
those attending the previous session have
no notice and no opportunity to attend,
does not comply with the law. (§ II.E.2).
Members of the governing body of the public body are responsible for ensuring that public meetings and executive sessions comply with Public Meetings Law.When OGEC receives a complaint alleging a violation may have occurred, any investigations opened will be against the individual members of the governing body. Each member will be subject to any civil penalties assessed by the Commission. Complaints regarding the executive session provisions of the Public Meetings Law cannot be opened against the public body's staff or the public body itself.
A governing body of a public body can meet in executive session to talk about hiring a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent. Statues can be found in ORS 192.660(2(a) and ORS 192.660(7)(d)(A-D).
We have created a four step checklist that reviews the prerequisites that must be met before meeting in execuitve session.
4 Steps for Considering Employment in Executive Session (PDF)
OGEC staff can provide advice and
guidance on the application of the provisions in ORS 192.660 to future
or hypothetical circumstances. If you have questions about the
application of the executive session provision or whether they might
apply to a specific situation, you can contact the OGEC staff by calling
(503) 378-5105 or emailing email@example.com.
The Oregon Department of Justice publishes the Attorney General's Public Records and Meetings Manual. This manual is available on the Oregon Department of Justices' website in PDF and HTML format. You can also purchase a print version.
Attorney General's Public Records and Meetings Information & Manual
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