BATON ROUGE, LA State Treasurer John Kennedy wants the federal government to turn over information on roughly $206 million in unclaimed U.S. savings bonds to the Louisiana Department of the Treasury so that Louisiana citizens can start collecting their money.

Every state in the nation has an unclaimed property program, and we return this money day in and day out, said Treasurer Kennedy. The federal government, unfortunately, does not. The U.S. Treasury has made somewhat of an effort in recent years to return unclaimed savings bonds to citizens, but it hasnt been enough. It just makes sense to turn this information over to states to handle locating the rightful owners.

Roughly 35 million U.S. savings bonds totaling more than $15 billion nationwide have fully matured and no longer earn interest. Treasurer Kennedy supports Operation Rightful Owner, a joint effort of the National Association of State Treasurers and National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators to pass federal legislation to reunite bondholders with matured unredeemed U.S. savings bonds.

The federal legislation would call for the U.S. government to open up its records pertaining to savings bonds to state unclaimed property offices. The information would be put into a national database so that states could locate residents and tell them their bonds have matured and are ready to be retrieved. States would take advantage of the successful unclaimed property programs they already have in place to reunite owners with their money.

In 2006, state unclaimed property offices refunded 1.9 million claims totaling more than $1.7 billion. Louisiana typically returns around $15 million a year to citizens and has given back $151 million since the state's unclaimed property program began.

State unclaimed property offices already have a proven track record of returning unclaimed property to its rightful owners, and we have the necessary resources to locate citizens, said Treasurer Kennedy. If the federal government would give us the information we need to return these savings bonds, we would do everything in our power to get this money back in the hands of citizens.