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AGO 1952 No. 391 - August 29, 1952
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington


Civil defense organizational equipment purchased with matching funds participated in by the federal, state and local governments should be held in the name of the state.

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                                                                 August 29, 1952

Honorable D. E. Barbey
Director of Civil Defense
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 391

Dear Sir:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of August 8, 1952, in which you request our opinion as to who should hold title to civil defense organizational equipment and supplies purchased under the matching fund program whereby the federal government supplies fifty percent of the funds, the state twenty-five percent and local political subdivisions twenty-five percent.

            It is our conclusion that the title to civil defense organizational equipment purchased under the fund matching program should be in the state.


            The state obtains from the federal government grants of money for the procurement of organizational equipment subject to regulations issued by the federal civil defense administration, particularly Part 1701 of those regulations.  Under those regulations a federal grant is made to match the state contribution and the state assumes custody of the equipment.  Thus, under subsection (n) of Part 1701.3 of the Federal Civil Defense Administration Regulations, it is provided:

            "Title to organizational equipment procured by FCDA will pass to the state upon delivery of such equipment to the state.  * * *"

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            However, the federal government does not surrender all of its interest in the equipment purchased by matching funds for subsection (1) of Part 1701.3 of the Regulations provides:

            "In the event organizational equipment is sold, except as provided in 'G' above the state will remit to FCDA or credit FCDA with a percentage of the selling price or trade‑in allowance equal to the percentage of federal contribution toward the original purchase price and transportation costs thereof."

            It is apparent that according to the understanding implied between state and federal governments, when such equipment is obtained the state shall take title and shall be accountable to the federal government for the property.  Section 19, chapter 178, Laws of 1951, is the authority for requiring the political subdivisions to provide matching funds.  That section reads:

            "The civil defense agency is hereby authorized to require of any political subdivision to which funds are allocated under this act for any project, use or activity that such subdivision shall provide matching funds in equal amounts with respect to such project, use or activity."

            There is no implication in the statute that these matching funds are anything but a required contribution by the political subdivision to the project, use or activity initiated by the state civil defense agency.  The statute does not provide that title to property procured with such matching funds shall belong to the political subdivision.  In our opinion the state civil defense agency is a trustee to hold title to organizational equipment and to account for it to the federal government.  Title to such equipment could not consistently with this status be given to the political subdivisions.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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