Navigation Top
AGO Logo Graphic
AGO Header Image
File a Complaint
Contact the AGO
AGO 1960 No. 162 - November 30, 1960
AGO Opinion Header Image
John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

OFFICES AND OFFICERS - STATE - DIRECTOR OF AERONAUTICS - PURCHASE OF PROPERTY THROUGH THE DIVISION OF PURCHASING.

(1) The director of aeronautics is required to make all purchases or leases of real or personal property through the division of purchasing, department of general administration except those financed wholly or in part with federal monies.

(2) The supervisor of purchasing, department of general administration, upon the request of the director of aeronautics may authorize the director and the state aeronautics commission to enter contracts in their own names for the purchase or lease of real or personal property where the authorization specifies restrictions as to the dollar amount or specific types of material, equipment and supplies.

                                                                   - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                               November 30, 1960

Honorable William A. Gebenini
Director of Aeronautics
Box 3, Boeing Field
Seattle, Washington                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 59-60 No. 162

Dear Sir:

            By your letter of October 7, 1960, you requested an opinion of this office on the following questions:

            1.  Need the director of aeronautics make all purchases or leases of real or personal property through the division of purchasing, department of general administration?

            2.  Could the supervisor of purchasing, department of general administration authorize the director of aeronautics and the state aeronautics commission to enter contracts in their own names for the purchase or lease of real or personal property?

            We answer both questions in the analysis below.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]                       ANALYSIS

            Under chapter 14.04 RCW the state aeronautics commission is given broad powers to acquire real or personal property either by lease or purchase in order to effect the general policy established by the act creating the commission.  Of special importance to our inquiry is RCW 14.04.180 which reads as follows:

            "The commission may enter into any contracts necessary to the execution of the powers granted it by this chapter.  All contracts made by the commission, either as the agent of the state or as the agent of any municipality, shall be made pursuant to the laws of the state governing the making of like contractsProvided, That where the planning, acquisition, construction, improvement, maintenance, or operation of any airport, or air navigation facility is financed wholly or partially with federal moneys, the commission as agent of the state or of any municipality, may let contracts in the manner prescribed by the federal authorities acting under the laws of the United States and any rules or regulations made thereunder."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            From the statute and the emphasis we have supplied it becomes apparent that, with the exception mentioned in the proviso, all such contracts made by the commission must be made in accordance with the laws of the state applicable to the making of contracts by state agencies such as the aeronautics commission.

            In RCW 43.19.180 43.19.200 a division of purchasing is established.  By these statutes it is clear that the legislature has set forth a policy requiring all purchases of personal property by the state be made through this central purchasing division.

            Since a lease is a form of contract, the leasing of personal property is also subject to the same provisions.  See Barnett v. Lincoln, 162 Wash. 613, 299 Pac. 392 (1931).

            We are therefore of the opinion that the authority of the aeronautics commission to purchase or lease personal property is subject to the provisions of chapter 43.19 RCW establishing the division of  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] purchasing subject only to the exceptions mentioned in the proviso above.

            As to the purchase or lease of real property, we note that RCW 43.19.1929 reads as follows:

            "The director of general administration, through the division of purchasing, shall enter into rental contracts, purchase agreements, or leases for all space needed for offices, warehouses, and other premises as may be required by the various state agencies:  Provided That primary authority for the leasing of real estate for research or experimental purposes for their own use shall rest with the colleges and universities."

            It would appear certain that the clear and unambiguous language of this statute would require the purchase or lease of all space needed for offices and warehouses be made through the division of purchasing.  The real question involved here, however, is whether the term "other premises as may be required by the various state agencies" would include such real property as mentioned in RCW 14.04.100.  It is a well known and understood rule of statutory construction that general terms in a statute that follow precise or specific terms are to be read as modified by the specific.  As our court noted and approved in State ex rel. Gilroy v. Superior Court, 37 Wn. (2d) 926, 932, 226 P. (2d) 882 (1951):

            "'". . . where general words follow an enumeration of persons or things by words of a particular and specific meaning, such general words are not to be construed in their widest extent, but are to be held as applying only to persons or things of the same general kind or class as those specifically mention."  Black's Law Dictionary, P. 415.'"

            In applying this rule to the statute here involved it is our opinion that all purchases or leases of space needed for offices and warehouses or similar premises must be made through the division of purchasing.

            It is also a well understood rule of construction that a statute should be construed to accomplish the purpose intended by the legislature.  State ex rel. Thorp v. Devin, 26 Wn. (2d) 333, 173 P. (2d) 994 (1946).  With both rules in mind we are of the opinion  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] that when applied to the aeronautics commission the term "other premises as may be required" would include the real property mentioned in RCW 14.04.100.  To illustrate by example, this term would, in the case of most state agencies, include the parking facilities necessary for an office building.  In the case of the aeronautics commission it would include runways and airport facilities.

            However, it should be pointed out that where the planning, acquisition, construction, improvement, maintenance, or operation of any airport, or air navigation facility is financed wholly or partially with federal moneys, the commission as agent of the state or of any municipality, may let contracts in the manner prescribed by the federal authorities acting under the laws of the United States and any rules or regulations made thereunder.

            While this would appear to sufficiently answer your first question, we would in passing like to call your attention to RCW 43.19.1935 which reads in part as follows:

            "As a means of providing for the procurement of insurance and public official bonds on a volume rate basis, the director of general administration through the division of purchasing shall purchase or contract for the needs of state agencies in relation to all such insurance and public official bonds:  Provided, That the individual public official bonds of elected state officials, insurance requirements of colleges and universities, insurance requirements of toll project agencies and insurance covering proprietary activities of state agencies, other than motor vehicle coverage, may be procured directly and independently by them. . . ."

            From this statute it would appear clear that all purchases of insurance must be made through the division of purchasing.

            The answer to your second question is covered by RCW 43.19.190 which reads as follows:

            "The director of general administration, through the division of purchasing, shall:

            ". . .

             [[Orig. Op. Page 5]]

            "(4) Have authority to delegate to state agencies a limited authorization to purchase or sell, which authorization shall specify restrictions as to dollar mountor to specific types of material, equipment and supplies:  Provided, That acceptance of the limited purchasing authorization by a state agency does not relieve such agency from conformance with other sections of RCW 43.19.190 through 43.19.1939 or from policies established by the state purchasing committee;"  (Emphasis supplied.)

            As you will note this statute would require an agency to submit a request for such permission, setting forth either the dollar amount or the specific types of materials, equipment or supplies.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

R. TED BOTTIGER
Assistant Attorney General

Content Bottom Graphic
AGO Logo