The writer of this column doesn't cherish the title of Mr. Nitpick but, gee, when the public officials who draft and publish legal notices seem not to know the names of the governmental units they're serving, they are fair game.

Earlier this week, we took note of an ad in which the local U.S. marshal gave the name of a nonexistent court whose writ he was purporting to execute.

Yesterday another local agency published two ads in this paper representing itself as part of a governmental unit that hasn't legally functioned for 112 years. The nonfunctioning unit? You gotta believe: "The City of Washington, D.C."

In the ads, the Department of Environmental Services of "the City of Washington" sought proposals from consulting firms to prepare plans for two major facilities.

What was incorrect about the ads? Congress, in 1871, wiped out the municipal governments of the City of Washington and the adjacent City of Georgetown and merged them into a unified District of Columbia Government, which has functioned--and sometimes malfunctioned--ever since.

"We've been putting ads in the paper for the last 15 years using that nomenclature," said Gus Bass, chief of specifications for Environmental Services' architectural and engineering branch, voicing surprise at our inquiry. "If we need to change it, we'll change it."