Office of the Army General Counsel
Title 10, United States Code (USC), Section 3019(a), establishes the position of the General Counsel and provides that the General Counsel shall be appointed from the civilian sector by the President and with the advice and consent of the Senate. Pursuant to 10 USC 3019(b), the General Counsel shall perform such functions as the Secretary of the Army may prescribe. Under the General Counsel’s leadership and direction, the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) provides legal counsel to the Secretary of the Army and serves as the chief legal office in the Department of the Army. The OGC’s responsibility extends to any subject of law and to other matters as directed by the Secretary of the Army.
The General Counsel and the OGC’s subordinate attorneys serve as counsel for the Department of the Army, the Secretary, and other Secretariat officials; coordinate legal and policy advice to all other members of Headquarters, Department of the Army; determine the Army’s position on all legal questions and procedures; provide legal advice on Army acquisition, logistics, and technology programs; give final Army legal clearance on all legislative proposals and comments thereon of interest to the Department; establish and administer the Army’s policies concerning legal services; exercise technical supervision over and professional guidance to all Department of the Army attorneys and legal offices; oversee compliance with the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act within the Department; oversee the Army Ethics Program and exercise final authority within the Army for all ethics matters; exercise the Secretary of the Army’s oversight of intelligence activities and monitor those activities for legality and propriety; serve as the point of contact for legal matters between the Department of the Army and other departments and agencies; and take final action on claims filed against the Army.
The Office of the General Counsel is comprised of an Executive Section, four legal practice groups, and one program. The General Counsel directly heads the Executive Section and is assisted by a Principal Deputy General Counsel. The four practice groups are: Acquisition; Installations, Environment, & Civil Works; Operations & Personnel; and Ethics & Fiscal. Each of these legal practice groups is headed by a Deputy General Counsel, a career Senior Executive Service civilian attorney. Each of the legal practice groups is comprised of career civilian attorneys, military officer attorneys of the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and military officer attorneys participating in the General Counsel’s Honors Program (attorneys newly graduated from law school, selected to serve in the Office of the General Counsel in satisfaction of their Reserve Officer Training Corps obligations). The Office of the General Counsel also includes the Army’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program. This program is headed by a GS-15 Director and is responsible for organizing and overseeing ADR training and systems within the Army.
The enumerated responsibilities of the General Counsel include: overseeing sensitive Army intelligence and criminal investigative activities for legality and propriety; serving as the Army’s Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO), with responsibility to oversee the Department’s ethics program; and serving as a special member of the Army Systems Acquisition Review Council and providing legal representation to the Army Contract Adjustment Board and the Defense Acquisition Regulatory Council. The General Counsel also provides professional guidance and general oversight with respect to the representation of the Army and protection of its interests in all judicial and other legal proceedings, and serves as the point of contact for legal matters between the Army and the General Counsel of the Department of Defense and the General Counsel of the other Military Services and Federal Agencies.
In addition to determining the Army’s final legal position on any matter, the General Counsel exercises technical supervision of attorneys across the Army, to include those serving under the purview of The Judge Advocate General; in the Office of the Command Counsel, U.S. Army Material Command (AMC); and the Office of the Chief Counsel, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Office of the General Counsel coordinates closely and continuously with these legal offices to ensure the consistent, accurate, and timely delivery of legal services throughout the Army.