General Law Division

Printer-friendly version

Welcome

The General Law Division provides oral advice and written legal opinions concerning the administration and management of the Department, areas which, in general, are governed by statutes and regulations of Government- and Department-wide applicability. The General Law Division is responsible for providing legal services in all areas of administrative law not specifically assigned to the other two divisions in the office or to the Assistant General Counsels for Finance and Litigation or Legislation and Regulation.

Office Description

Agreements – Whenever you hold yourself out to the public as doing something jointly with another party, or transfer funds between parties, you need to have a Memorandum of Agreement to document the relationship. Click here for more information on the agreement process [pdf] and the types of MOAs available to you. Current Model Agreements. Click here for MOU FAQs.

Appropriations Law – We advise on all aspects of spending and accepting funds including: time purpose and amount restrictions on the use of appropriated funds, interpretation of appropriation act language, and applicability of legislative restrictions and Comptroller General opinions to appropriated fund activities; use of the Department’s Working Capital Fund; use of the gift and bequest fund; acceptance of user fees. There are limitations on the use of both appropriated and non-appropriated funds for trinkets and food. Guide for expending funds on food; Guide for expending funds on trinkets.

Conferences – Planning a conference? Conferences present many legal issues such as: payment, partners, fees, sponsorships, food, travel, honoraria, logos and trinkets/giveaways. Please follow the links to find out more information about each of these or click here for conferences FAQs.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – The Division provides general advice on the Freedom of Information Act and training; it adjudicates all appeals from initial FOIA decisions and it assists the Department of Justice in defending any FOIA litigation. Link to Department’s FOIA website.

Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) –Whenever agency officials want to obtain advice or input from the private sector, they need to consider whether this falls under (FACA). The FACA governs the establishment and operation of formal, and, even at times, informal gatherings that advise the Government. Attached is an FAQ about the FACA. In addition the Department of Commerce has specific procedures for populating FACA committees and other groups. Please follow the links to find more information.

Government Property – the Division provides advice on GSA’s personal property regulations. Link to OAS property management page.

Intellectual Property – The Division is also responsible for providing Departmental offices and agencies with intellectual property advice in the areas of Internet law, trademark, copyright and domain name practice. This may include performing trademark and domain name searches, licensing DOC marks and other Departmental branding activities; responding to unauthorized use and infringement of Departmental marks, addressing questions on the use of copyrighted materials, reviewing requests to sign releases and other matters. Click here for template IP agreements.

Logos – As part of its IP portfolio, General Law also provides legal guidance on the use of Departmental Seals, emblems, insignia, and logos (collectively logos) by bureaus and operating units; the use of these logos by an outside party; the creation of new logos; and the use of logos as it relates to endorsement. Attached is an FAQ about logos and our office’s form [pdf] for permission to authorize the use of Department logos by outside entities.

Official Travel – the Division provides advice on GSA’s Federal Travel Regulations.

Privacy Act – The Division provides general advice on application of the Privacy Act and clears all the Department’s Systems of Records. It adjudicates and Privacy Act appeals and assists the Department of Justice in defending any Privacy Act litigation.

Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) – The Division provides advice in this area, including when PRA clearance is required and how to obtain it.

Records Management – The Division provides advice on the Federal Records Act and the Department’s compliance with NARA requirements. DOC Records Management.

Useful Resources

The Division also is responsible for providing advice and preparing opinions in a number of other areas, including: Department directives and delegations of authority; the classification and protection of records classified for national security reasons; printing; publishing and advertising.