Office of General Counsel
The mission of the Office of General Counsel (OGC) is to identify and meet the legal needs of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Its primary objective is to ensure the just and faithful execution of the laws, regulations and policies that the Secretary has responsibility for administering, and by so doing enable the Department to accomplish its mission of service to our Nation's veterans.
General Counsel: James M. Byrne
The General Counsel of the Department of Veterans Affairs issues written legal opinions having precedential effect in adjudications and appeals involving veterans' benefits under laws administered by VA. The General Counsel's interpretations on legal matters, contained in such opinions, are conclusive as to all VA officials and employees not only in the matter at issue but also in future adjudications and appeals, in the absence of a change in controlling statute or regulation, Court decision, or a superseding written legal opinion of the General Counsel. VA provides these opinions in order to give the public notice of those interpretations of the General Counsel that must be followed in future benefit matters and to assist veterans' benefit claimants and their representatives in the prosecution of benefit claim.
Another major professional responsibility within the Office of General Counsel is administration of claims arising under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
Click here for more detailed information about the OGC organization or click on any of the links on the right side of this page for more information about the Office of General Counsel and related programs including Accreditation, HIPAA Information, the Office of General Counsel Opinions, gifts to the Department of Veterans Affairs, claims under the FTCA and local Chief Counsels in the VA Districts.
The VA’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) has the featured article in the January 2018 newsletter of the National Association of Attorneys General. “Predatory Practices and VA Claims Representation,” by VA attorney Lara Eilhardt, talks about OGC’s collaboration with state Attorney Generals on fraud against Veterans related to representation on benefit claims. This is part of OGC’s ongoing outreach to law enforcement and consumer protection partners. Ms. Eilhardt shares the following:
The VA believes that all Veterans and their families deserve qualified, competent representation on their VA benefits claims. Sadly, each year we receive numerous complaints about questionable conduct relating to claims preparation, and too often the conduct that is being complained about is outside the scope of the VA’s enforcement authority over accreditation. The VA strives to join forces with state and federal enforcement authorities to address conduct that appears to be harmful to Veterans but is currently beyond the VA’s reach. Through collaborating on criminal and civil prosecutions, we send the message loud and clear that preying upon Veterans for your own financial gain will not be tolerated.
Click here to read the article.