According to the Sunshine laws, every administrative agency meeting should be public. Agencies are liable to make public notice for announcing and closing public meetings.[i]
There are two major procedures for closing an agency meeting. The first procedure for closing an agency meeting is that a majority of the members of an agency should vote to close a meeting, or a part of the meeting.[ii] The voting requirements specified in the Sunshine laws should be followed. The administrative agency should publish the vote within a day. The agency should also make public the time, place, and subject matter of the meeting, whether it is to be an open meeting, or a closed one.
A meeting can be closed if an interested party believes that s/he will be directly affected. This is because the person’s private information or any information regarding crime or criminal investigation is scheduled to be discussed.[iii] The interested party can request for a closed meeting in such circumstances. However, a recorded vote is necessary in a closed meeting also.
The administrative agency members should publish the written copy of its votes. There should be complete explanation of its actions closing the meeting. When administrative agencies deal with regulating financial institutions or preparing adjudications, agencies can close meetings regarding such activities. Agencies can make regulations for closing such meetings or portions of such meetings that are exempted from open meeting law. According to such regulations, the agencies need not apply the voting requirements and statutory requirements of open meeting laws.
The second procedure required for closing an agency meeting is that the general counsel and chief legal officer of an agency should certify that the meeting can be closed to public. The opinion of the general counsel and chief legal officer of an agency should also comprise the reason for closing the meeting, and the proper exemption provided in the statute.
[i] 5 USCS § 552b