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AGLO 1974 No. 91 - November 04, 1974
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- STATE ‑- BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS ‑- DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY

A member of the state printing and duplicating committee provided for in RCW 43.77.010 may not designate an alternate (or substitute) to attend meetings and act in his (or her) behalf at meetings of the committee.

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                                                                November 4, 1974

Honorable Thomas R. Hazzard
Legislative Auditor
Legislative Budget Committee
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington 98504                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1974 No. 91

Dear Sir:
 
            By recent letter you requsted our opinion on a question which we paraphrase as follows:
 
            May a member of the state printing and duplicating committee provided for in RCW 43.77.010 designate an alternate (or substitute) to attend meetings and act in his (or her) behalf at meetings of the committee?
 
            We answer this question in the negative for the reasons set forth in our analysis.
 
                                                                     ANALYSIS
 
            RCW 43.77.010 provides that:
 
            "The state printer, the director of budget, and the director of general administration shall constitute the state printing and duplicating committee."
 
            RCW 43.77.020 sets forth the powers and duties of this committee as follows:
 
            "The state printing and duplicating committee shall hereafter approve or take such other action as it deems necessary regarding the purchase or acquisition of any printing, microfilm, or other duplicating equipment, other than typewriters or mimeograph machines, by any official or agency of the state.  Whenever the director of general administration determines that any official or agency has not substantially complied with the provisions of chapters 40.10 and 40.14 RCW, he shall refer to the committee for approval or other action, requests received by his agency for the purchase or acquisition of files and filing equipment from the requesting official or agency."
 
             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
            RCW 43.77.030 then provides that:
 
            "Hereafter no state official or agency of the state shall acquire by purchase or otherwise any printing, microfilm, or other duplicating equipment, other than typewriters or mimeograph machines, unless authorized by the state printing and duplicating committee to so acquire."
 
            Next, RCW 43.77.040 states that:
 
            "The state printing and duplicating committee shall meet within one month after the effective date of this chapter [June 10, 1959] and make provision for carrying out the purposes of this chapter.  The committee shall thereafter meet at such places and times as it shall determine and as often as necessary to discharge the duties imposed upon it."
 
            And finally, RCW 43.77.050 provides that:
 
            "Nothing in this chapter shall apply to officials or agencies of the legislative or judicial branch of the state government."
 
            From the foregoing statutory provisions it appears evident to us that the state printing and duplicating committee is possessed of certain discretionary functions in connection with the acquisition of duplicating and printing equipment by state agencies of the executive branch of government.  Accordingly, it necessarily follows that the three statutory members of this committee are subject to the same rules respecting the nondelegability of discretionary functions as were recently spelled out and applied by the Washington supreme court in the cases of In re Puget Sound Pilots Ass'n, 63 Wn.2d 142, 385 P.2d 711 (1963), and Ledgering v. State, 63 Wn.2d 94, 385 P.2d 522 (1963).
 
            In the Pilots Association case, the court was presented with a situation in which the then director of the department of labor and industries, who was statutorily a member of the state board of pilotage commissioners by virtue of RCW 88.16.010, had attempted to authorize another individual within the department to sit and act in his place.  Finding no statutory authorization for such a delegation, the court held it invalid, saying:
 
             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
            "'The rule is well stated in 42 Am.Jur., Public Administrative Law § 73, as follows:
 
            "'"It is a general principle of law, expressed in the maxim 'delegatus non potest delegare,' that a delegated power may not be further delegated by the person to whom such power is delegated.  Apart from statute, whether administrative officers in whom certain powers are vested or upon whom certain duties are imposed may deputize others to exercise such powers or perform such duties usually depends upon whether the particular act or duty sought to be delegated is ministerial, on the one hand, or on the other, discretionary or quasi-judicial.  Merely ministerial functions may be delegated to assistants whose employment is authorized, but there is no authority to delegate acts discretionary or quasi-judicial in nature.  . . ."
 
            "'There can be no doubt that the function of the board of pilotage commissioners in the instant case is of a judicial nature and not at all ministerial.  A party appearing before the board in a proceeding of this kind is entitled to the consideration and judgment of the Director of the Department of Labor and Industries rather than that of some third person arbitrarily selected and designated by the director.'"
 
            Similarly, in the Ledgering case, the court dealt with an attempt by the then director of the department of motor vehicles to delegate his discretionary power to suspend motor vehicle operators' licenses to a subordinate official of the department.  In also holding this delegation to be invalid the court in this case expressed its reasoning as follows:
 
            "We do not believe . . . that when the legislature vested in the director discretionary power to suspend motor vehicle operators' licenses, under the provisions of RCW 46.20.290, it, absent express declaration, intended the power of executive decision in this area be delegated by the director to assistants, or relegated to a simple mechanical process.
 
            "Gathering, collating, and presenting such facts as may be required by the director, together with making appropriate recommendations, preparing, signing, and mailing  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] notices and orders in the name of the director are without doubt delegable duties.  But, the basic responsibility and authority of exercising the discretion and power of decision, vested by RCW 46.20.290, rests exclusively with the director."  (Emphasis supplied.)
 
            Likewise, in the case of the state printing and duplicating committee, we find in the governing statutes no such "express declaration" of legislative intent to permit a delegation of any of the discretionary functions of that committee and its members.  Therefore, we must, on the basis of these two 1963 cases, answer your present question in the negative; i.e., a member of the printing and duplicating committee may not designate an alternate, or substitute, to attend meetings of the committee and act in his or her behalf at those meetings.
 
            We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
 
Very truly yours,
 
SLADE GORTON
Attorney General

PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General

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