Reclamation Supplement to Federal Property Management Regulations

Part 48 Utilization, Donation, or Disposal of Abandoned and Forfeited Personal Property

Subpart 114S-48.70 Lost and Found Property

114S-48.7001 Scope of Subpart.

This subpart establishes the basic policy for handling privately owned property that was lost on a Government facility and found by a private citizen Government employee, concessionaire, or Government contractor. This subpart includes:

(a) Turning in lost property.

(b) Safeguarding lost property.

(c) Returning lost property to the rightful owner.

(d) Disposition of unclaimed property.

(e) Recordkeeping and reporting.


114S-48.7002 Purpose.

The purpose of this subpart is to establish a policy and procedure for processing lost and found property.


114S-48.7003 Responsibilities.

(a) Regional Directors are responsible for overall implementation of this policy. Regional Directors are also responsible for the determination of applicability of state laws regarding lost and found property discussed in 114S-48.7004, and dissemination of the information by regional supplement to this subpart.

(b) Heads of the offices are responsible for full implementation of this program in areas of their jurisdiction.

(c) Regional property managers are responsible for review of the implementation of this program at field locations.


114S-48.7004 Policy Background.

The law has traditionally distinguished between lost, mislaid, and abandoned property. Because there is no Federal statute which applies to lost property, Reclamation must comply with applicable state law with the proprietary or concurrent jurisdiction, and with the common law rule in areas of exclusive Federal jurisdiction. However, most states have not enacted lost and found property statutes and, thus, rely on the common law rule. The common law rule for lost property found in a public place is that the finder has rights in the property paramount to all but the true owner. Consequently, in those states that have enacted such statutes, Regional Directors will determine if the following procedures are inconsistent with state requirements. If so, the procedures will be modified accordingly.


114S-48.7005 Turn-in Procedure.

(a) Any lost and found property coming to the attention of any Reclamation employee will be recorded by that employee on form 7-2276. Care will be exercised to ensure that sufficient information is included, especially in the "description of property" section. A report number using the following format will be assigned to each report: Last digit of the fiscal year, accountable office number, serial number beginning with 001 each fiscal year (e.g., 94360-001).

(b) Each office head will establish and maintain a Central Receiving Station with as many Temporary Receiving Stations as deemed necessary to provide for the convenience of the project, loser, and finder. The location of Temporary and Central Receiving Stations will be identified by appropriate signs.

(c) When a supervisor is satisfied that all property has been properly recorded, property turned in to a Temporary Receiving Station will be forwarded to the Central Receiving Station in a timely manner. Once property has been sent to the Central Receiving Station, the claimant will be referred to that location during normal business hours. The found property records will routinely be checked against lost property records and those matched will be returned to the owner.


114S-48.7006 Safeguarding Lost Property.

(a) Employees receiving money, jewelry, and similar valuable articles will immediately place them in the care of a supervisor who will deposit them in a safe or other secure storage facility.

(b) Each office head will designate a Property Officer to be responsible for the receipt, storage, and security of found property. The Property Officer will limit to an absolute minimum those employees with access to the property storage area.


114S-48.7007 Returning Lost Property to Rightful Owner.

(a) Owners claiming found property may sign for and receive the article at the Temporary Receiving Station after presenting satisfactory identification of the article and their personal identification. In no case will property be released without the owner providing their full name and address, and signing a receipt for the property. This information will be recorded on form 7-2276.

(b) When the owner of found property has been identified and has requested return of the property in writing, the property may be returned via registered or certified mail in a Government envelope or carton (postage paid, if postage is $15 or less). The same procedure may be applied to a finder after the 60-day holding period. Appropriate receipts will be retained and the owner or finder should be requested to return a signed receipt for the property. Postage exceeding $15 must be paid by the recipient

(c) In the absence of state law to the contrary, Reclamation will return unclaimed lost property to the finder after 60 days.


114S-48.7008 Disposition of Unclaimed Property.

Items which are not claimed by the owner or eligible finder after 60 days will be considered as abandoned to the United States and disposed of in accordance with part 10148 of the Federal Property Management Regulations, with the following exceptions:

(1) Items which can be clearly utilized by Reclamation may be retained and placed on the project inventory pursuant to GSA regulations.

(2) No contraband article may be returned to an owner or finder, but will be destroyed pursuant to Federal Property Management Regulations, after evidence requirements have been met.

(3) Items of little or no intrinsic value such as single gloves, broken or damaged equipment, toys, wearing apparel, false teeth, corrective lens, eyeglasses, and similar property will be documented by a Survey Officer and either donated to a charitable, nonprofit organization or destroyed. In cases of destruction, a Reclamation employee will witness destruction and certify to such on the Survey Report.

(4) Disposition of property abandoned to the United States will begin within 30 days of a determination of abandonment.


114S-48.7009 Recordkeeping and Reporting.

All Lost and Found Property Records will be maintained by the Office Head pursuant to Federal Property Management Regulations. When an audit reveals any article of value missing and unaccounted for, the office head will advise the appropriate Assistant Regional Director in writing.


FPMR-14 - 9/15/95 (Supersedes 3/20/90)