The Office of General Counsel provides legal opinions, advice and services with respect to all departmental programs and activities. OGC represents the agency in litigation and enforcement actions; provides legal services in connection with the development, preparation and presentation of the Department's legislative initiatives; has primary responsibility for the development of HUD program regulations; and assists in the development of HUD programs and policies.
The Office of General Counsel includes the General Counsel, a General Deputy General Counsel, two Deputy General Counsel, a Senior Counsel and a Senior Advisor. OGC Headquarters is divided into eight functional offices from which legal services are provided to HUD Program Administrators. Each office is headed by an Associate General Counsel. Headquarters also consists of the Enforcement Center. Field Legal Services are provided by ten Legal Service Centers headed by a Regional Counsel and 40 Field offices headed by an Association Regional Counsel for Housing Finance and Programs.
OGC provides legal advice and services through the following offices:
Office of Assisted Housing and Community Development
The Office of Assisted Housing and Community Development consists of "program counsel" who are experts in the laws governing grants to states, local governments, and Indian tribes for community development and housing activities that benefit low and moderate income families, homeless housing assistance, and housing assistance for low-income persons in public and private assisted housing. This office performs the legal work for all departmental programs authorized under the United States Housing Act of 1937 (including Section 8 and low-rent public housing), Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (Community Development Block Grants, including Community Development Block Grants for disaster assistance and Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants), Title II of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act (HOME), McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. and the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996. As program counsel, these attorneys provide legal advice to the HUD program administrators, HUD recipients such as cities, States, and public housing authorities, and legal aid groups, tenant/resident organizations, and ultimate beneficiaries of the programs, such as low-income tenants.
Office of Fair Housing
The Office of Fair Housing consists of the Fair Housing Compliance Division and the Fair Housing Enforcement Division. The Compliance Division provides legal services, including issuing legal opinions, in connection with the implementation and enforcement of civil rights laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 109 and the Community and Development Act of 1974, and Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, applicable to a wide variety of programs conducted or assisted by the Department. The Division also provides legal advice on the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discriminaiton Act and minority and female owned business enterprise opportunities. The Enforcement Division is responsible for enforcement activities under the Federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, financing (including fair lending) or advertising of housing based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, handicap, or national origin. These activities include providing legal support to HUD investigations of Fair Housing Act complaints, including Secretary initiated and systemic complaints, and initiating and conducting administrative enforcement proceedings before Administrative Law Judges Both the Compliance Division and the enforcement Division work closely with other Federal agencies with overlapping authority or interests in related issues, such as accessibility and fair lending.
Office of Finance and Adminstrative Law
The Office of Finance and Administrative Law performs legal services in connection with the Department's efforts to implement and enforce various regulatory, environmental, administrative, and procurement statutes and programs. Office attorneys provide all legal advice involving the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Historic Preservation Act and other environmental laws and authorities, Flood Disaster Protection Act, the Davis-Bacon Act and related Acts, the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, the Contract Disputes Act, the Competition in Contracting Act, the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and other related statutes and regulations concerning Federal contracting processes and procedures.
As program counsel to the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae), the office provides legal guidance to support Ginnie Mae program activities, including resolution of statutory, regulatory, corporate, and operational issues. Office attorneys work directly with the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney Offices in representing Ginnie Mae in litigation matters.
As program counsel to the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, the office provides and handles all procurement related administrative litigation before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals and bid protests at the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO), and is the principal liaison with the Department of Justice for bid protests and procurement related litigation filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States District Courts.
The Administrative Law Division handles all legal advisory work related to the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, Departmental delegations of authority, foreign travel, and matters of general administrative law. The Division serves as the principal legal advisor on all environmental law matters, historic preservation, and on labor law issues including the applicability of the Davis-Bacon Act to Departmental programs.
Office of Ethics, Appeals and Personnel Law
The Office of Ethics, Appeals and Personnel Law provides legal services pertaining to the programs and functions of the Assistant Secretary for Administration, the Chief Financial Officer, the Inspector General, the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, and all Assistant Secretaries on issues relating to personnel and labor law, equal employment opportunity (EEO), and ethics.
The relationship between HUD, its employees and the public, is governed by an array of Federal personnel and ethics laws and regulations. These authorities govern federal hiring and recruitment, labor-management relations, EEO and adverse actions, and the government-wide standards of conduct. Attorneys in the Personnel Law Division advise agency officials on labor relations and other personnel legal issues and represent HUD at administrative and judicial matters filed before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and in the U.S. District Courts. Ethics Law Division attorneys and professional staff provide advice, counsel and legal assistance to HUD Principal Staff and employees nationwide. This Division addresses highly confidential and sensitive matters relating to prohibited financial interests and financial disclosure requirements, the Hatch Act and permissible political activities, gift acceptance, travel, Federal criminal conflict of interest statutes and the HUD Reform Act of 1989.
Office of Insured Housing
The Office of Insured Housing performs legal work as "program counsel" for the Assistant Secretary for Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner. The Office has responsibility for providing legal advice for those Federal Housing Administration (FHA) programs authorized under the National Housing Act (NHA) and the Mark-to-Market program authorized under the Multifamily Assisted Housing Reform and Affordability Act of 1997 (MAHRA). The Office interprets legislative and regulatory requirements for loan origination, loan servicing, and payment of FHA insurance benefits on multifamily and single family mortgage loans as well as the disposition of properties acquired in exchange for these insurance benefits. The Office provides counsel for the approval of FHA lenders and mortgagees and provides legal assistance on issues related to troubled projects, defaulted loans, and the restructuring of project mortgages in the Mark-to-Market Program. The Office has two divisions: the Multifamily Mortgage Division for the FHA Multifamily Programs and the Mark-to-Market Program, and the Single Family Mortgage Division for FHA Single Family Programs and Lender Approval.
The Multifamily Mortgage Division provides legal advice and support to FHA in developing new programs as well as in managing the complex day-to-day operation of numerous existing programs that provide mortgage insurance on financing for multifamily housing projects and health care facilities, the restructuring of project mortgage loans in the Mark-to-Market Program, the competitive and non-competitive sale of defaulted mortgage loans, and the disposition of projects following foreclosure.
The Single Family Mortgage Division provides legal advice and support to FHA in the development of new programs and in the administration of existing programs so FHA can perform its mission of helping people become homeowners, especially first-time and minority homeowners. The Division also provides legal advice on complex transactions involving the sale of mortgage loans and properties acquired in exchange for payment of mortgage insurance benefits. In addition, the Division provides legal support for special housing programs such as counseling for homebuyers, housing for Native Americans, home equity loans for the elderly as well as loans for property improvement and the purchase of manufactured housing.
Office of Legislation and Regulations
The Office of Legislation and Regulations, which includes the Legislation and Regulations Divisions, provides legal services in connection with the development, preparation, and presentation of the Department's legislative and regulatory programs.
The Legislation Division has principal responsibility for: working with senior policy officials and staff to develop and draft the Department's legislation; for clearing such legislation through a departmental review process and with the Office of Management and Budget; monitoring the annual appropriations process and analyzing its effects on the Department through preparation of implementation guides; providing legal advice in connection with questions arising from legislation and related laws in program operations; coordinating the development of HUD policy positions on legislation affecting HUD which originates elsewhere in the Executive Branch or in Congress; and providing technical drafting services, legal review, and other technical assistance, as requested by members of Congress and their staffs, in connection with legislation.
The Regulations Division has principal responsibility for: working with senior policy officials and staff to develop and draft the Department's major regulations, notices of policy statements, and other key notices of the Department; for clearing these documents through a departmental review process and with the Office of Management and Budget; determining when regulatory or other action is needed to implement new statutory authority; determining, generally, when rulemaking is required under HUD's regulations in 24 CFR part 10, or the Administrative Procedure Act, and what legal interpretations and policy options are available to HUD through rulemaking; and serving as legal liaison with the House Financial Services Committee and Senate Banking Committee on the congressional review of HUD rules.
Office of Litigation
The Office of Litigation handles and coordinates the defensive litigation against the Department. It includes the Assisted Housing and Civil Rights Litigation Division and the Insured Housing and Community Development Litigation Division. It handles the most consequential, precedential, and politically sensitive cases for the Department. These cases involve constitutional, statutory, and regulatory issues affecting HUD programs nationwide. They have potential exposure to the Government for millions of dollars. Office of Litigation attorneys work with Department of Justice attorneys. Among other things, the Office of Litigation drafts briefs and other pleadings, argues motions in court, and propounds and responds to discovery requests.
Office of Program Enforcement
This Office of Program Enforcement provides legal services to the Departmental Enforcement Center as well as coordinates and handles affirmative litigation and administrative actions for other HUD offices. It is divided into an Administrative Proceedings Division and a Program Enforcement Division. The Office performs the legal functions necessary for enforcing the Department's statutory, regulatory, and contractual rights against those who participate in HUD programs. This work involves many program areas, including Multifamily and Single Family Housing, Public and Indian Housing, and Community Planning and Development. The Office also provides counsel to the Mortgagee Review Board, an entity made up of senior HUD officials, which is authorized to issue sanctions against FHA approved lenders.
Enforcement actions are pursued through administrative proceedings before HUD's Debarring Official, HUD's Administrative Law Judges, and the HUD Board of Contract Appeals, or with the Department of Justice in Federal Court. The types of actions include suspension and debarment of participants in HUD programs, initiation of Civil Money Penalties against mortgagees and owners of multifamily properties, initiation of cases involving fraud brought under the False Claims Act and Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act, and the takeover of troubled public housing authorities when their performance does not significantly improve or they are otherwise in substantial default of their contractual obligations to HUD. Attorneys defend the decisions made by the Multifamily Participation Review Committee (2530) denying participation in HUD programs as well as grant reduction sanctions made by the Office of Public and Indian Housing and the Office of Community Planning and Development. In addition, attorneys assist the Department of Justice in Federal Court in affirmative litigation, or in defensive actions when participants appeal administrative proceeding decisions adverse to them. A significant amount of legal support is provided to the Office of Housing for its actions to obtain the compliance of multifamily project owners with the requirement that they maintain the physical condition of their properties in decent, safe and sanitary condition.