DOJ: News Release

McGrath: Procurement Act Not Applicable to Crime Control Grants

HELENA – In a formal opinion released Tuesday, Attorney General Mike McGrath held that the Montana Procurement Act does not apply to grants awarded by the Montana Board of Crime Control to nongovernmental agencies to fund community projects.

Roland Mena, executive director of the MBCC, requested the opinion. Among other functions, the MBCC serves as the “state planning agency” under the federal Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act. The federal act provides for grants to states for purposes related to enforcement of criminal laws.

The Montana Procurement Act was adopted in 1983 and it covers the expenditure of public funds — including federal assistance money — to purchase supplies or services to be used by the state or its agencies. At the same time, however, the Procurement Act does not “prevent any governmental body or political subdivision from complying with the terms and conditions of any grant, gift, bequest, or cooperative agreement.”

The opinion released Tuesday noted that the policies served by grants awarded by the MBCC are federal, and that federal law dictates the purposes for which the grant funds may be used.

“The (Procurement) Act itself recognizes that its provisions are subservient to requirements imposed by federal programs,” McGrath held.

Opinions of the attorney general carry the weight of law unless a court overturns them or the Legislature modifies the laws involved.

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