Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1955 No. 71 - May 9 1955
Attorney General Don Eastvold


Director of general administration is responsible for location of site, architectural plans and service, and initiation of action for new capitol building construction.

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                                                                    May 9, 1955

Honorable H. D. Van Eaton
Director of Public Institutions
Public Lands Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 71

Dear Sir:

            You have requested our opinion upon three questions arising under § 9, Senate Bill 489 (chapter 285, Laws of 1955), as follows:

            1. Who is responsible for the selection of sites for new capitol building construction?

            2. Who is responsible for the selection of architectural services and for the preparation of plans and specifications covering such construction?

            3. Who is responsible for initiating action to accomplish the legislative direction with regard to such construction?

            In our opinion the director of public institutions has until June 9, 1955, and thereafter the director of general administration will have all of the foregoing responsibilities.


            Section 9, chapter 285, Laws of 1955, provides that

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "There is added to chapter 43.19 RCW a new section to read as follows:

            "The director of general administration, through the division of capitol buildings, shall:  * * *

            "(2) Prepare topographical and architectural plans for the state capitol buildings where not already prepared;

            "(3) Establish a systematic building program providing for the grouping of building at the state capitol;

            "(4) Prepare plans, specifications, and estimates of cost for all necessary repairs or betterments to the state capitol buildings, to accompany the estimates for the biennial budget;

            "(5) Supervise the erection, repairing and betterment of all capitol buildings."

            The foregoing powers and duties do not differ materially, insofar as the capitol buildings are involved, from those given to the director of public institutions (then director of business control) by § 44, chapter 7, Laws of 1921 (now codified as RCW 43.19.140 (3), (4), (5), and (6)).  Section 9 of chapter 285 in effect simply provides for a transfer of functions from the director of public institutions to the director of general administration, consistent with the change of title, in the area with which we are presently concerned.

            1. Selection of sites.  The director (we shall use the term to indicate the director of public institutions and the director of general administration) is empowered and required to

            "Establish a systematic building program providing for the grouping of buildings at the state capitol."  (Emphasis ours)

            Webster's New International Dictionary (2d ed.), p. 1106, defines the verb  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] "group" as meaning "to arrange or combine in a group or groups".  In the context, since capitol buildings are necessarily on the campus, it seems clear that the director is to locate new buildings in accordance with a system or scheme.  This necessarily involves the selection or designation of sites for such buildings.

            The state capitol committee, is, as to the things here in question, a policymaking body which acts through the director.  It was authorized by § 5, chapter 167, Laws of 1917 (now codified as RCW 43.34.030) to

            "* * * adopt new plans and specifications for the location, construction and completionof buildings on the capitol site, and may advertise for competitive plans."  (Emphasis supplied)

            If this language means that the capitol committee may advertise for competitive plans as to the selection of sites for new buildings, it seems clearly inconsistent with § 9 (3) of chapter 285, as quoted above.  We think the construction must be that the director is to select the sites conforming to the grouping of buildings which he is to establish.  His selection may thereafter be adopted by the capitol committee.

            2. Architectural services and plans.  In regard to the plans, it is important to note that through 1917, including the provision last quoted above, the capitol committee had complete control over the matter of plans.  See chapter 69, Laws of 1909, and chapter 59, Laws of 1911.  In the laws of 1921, however, by § 44 of chapter 7, the legislature provided that

            "The director of business control shall have the power, and it shall be his duty, through and by means of the division of public buildings and grounds:

            "(1) To prepare topographical and architectural plans for the state institutions under the control of the department, and for the state capitol buildings, where not already prepared; * * *"

            Since this provision (which is essentially the same as § 9 (2), chapter 285, Laws of 1955) and the authority given the capitol committee to advertise for  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] competitive bids on such plans by § 5, chapter 167, Laws of 1917, are plainly in conflict, we think that the latter provision was superseded or repealed by implication by § 44 (1).  The plans are therefore to be prepared by the director, subject to adoption by the committee.  The preparation of plans, in turn, necessarily implies the selection of an architect.  An important part of the work of the architect is the supervision of construction according to his plans.  The power to supervise the erection of capitol buildings has been given to the director by § 9 (5) of chapter 285, Laws of 1955, as it was by § 44 (4), chapter 7, Laws of 1921.  It follows that architectural plans and services are matters for which the director is responsible.

            3. Initiation of action.  When legislative authorization exists for the erection of additional capitol buildings, the first two administrative steps must be the selection of a site and the preparation of plans.  Since they are the responsibility of the director, his performance of those functions will in fact begin the action of the state looking toward construction.

            We hope the foregoing analysis will serve to clarify the division of responsibility between the committee and the director.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General