I’m so confused (Department of General Services)

Nope, not the new Department of General Services. The OLD Department of General Services. Ya see, I’m trying to trace the history of the new one and I was doing quite well until I realized I had a gap. Reorganization Order 42, June 23, 1953 (and how sad is it that I could rattle off the date without even checking to see if it was right) created the Department of Buildings and Grounds. And Reorganization Plan No. 5 of (okay, now I have to check) 1983 created the Department of Administrative Services.


The Department of Administrative Services was the successor agency to the (old) Department of General Services. Among other agencies. (See “IV. Transfer of Functions” in the Reorg Plan, which is found in volume 2 of the DC Code, or in the online version of the DC Code.)

Now, it turns out that I was just careless in not being able to identify the creation of the (old) Department of General Services, because it’s right there in the Reorg Plan text, Order of the Commissioner 69-96, but I was careless and therefore invoked the assistance of my fellow nerdy tweeps.

My tweep Anne saved the day, but in the process inadvertently pointed me towards a nerdy gold mine.

DC Code § 1-333.01 et seq is a treasure trove of antiquated and repealed Code provisions. Some of them…relating to some version or other of an old, wait for it, Department of General Services. And now we get to my confusion. The one I alluded to in the title of this post, a million and seven words ago. You clearly needed all that backstory.

History of DC Code § 1-333.03, “titled” by some codification counsel at some point in the past “Director of the Department of General Services”: July 1, 1882, 22 Stat. 139, ch. 263, § 1; Apr. 27, 1904, 33 Stat. 363, ch. 1628; Mar. 2, 1911, 36 Stat. 966, ch. 192; June 26, 1912, 37 Stat. 140, ch. 182; April 12, 1997, D.C. Law 11-259, § 401, 44 DCR 1423.

Points relevant to my confusion:

1. There is nothing in the history between 1912 and 1997. So what about that Department of General Services that was created in 1969, and was there really a section of law just hanging out being irrelevant?* How could that possibly have happened?**

2. That law there in 1997? It says the following regarding this section of the Code:

Sec. 401. The phrase in the fourth paragraph of the heading “General Expenses” of An Act Making appropriations to provide expenses for the government of the District of the District of Columbia approved, July 1, 1822 (22 Stat. 139; D.C. Code § 1-364***), which reads, “Purchasing Officer, who shall hereafter, under the direction of the commissioners, supervise the purchase and distribution of all supplies, stores, and construction materials for the government of the District of Columbia, and who shall give bond in such sums as the commissioners may determine,” is repealed.

Purchasing officer? Huh?

I’m so confused.


*Because that would never happen nowadays. NEVER.

**I mean, wasn’t Congress paying the utmost attention to the laws it passed for us in the pre-Home Rule days?

***Trust me that the parallel reference tables assure me this is the correct reference.



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