OGC Mission Statement
The Office of General Counsel’s (OGC) mission is to provide the highest quality legal services to support and facilitate the achievement of HUD’s mission of creating strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes consistent with the highest standards of ethics and professionalism.
The Office of General Counsel (OGC) 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.
OGC includes the General Counsel, a Principal Deputy General Counsel, three Deputy General Counsels, and two Senior Counsels. OGC consists of nine Divisions in Headquarters, ten Regional offices, and Field Offices throughout each region, and the Departmental Enforcement Center. Each OGC office provides legal counsel that supports HUD’s mission and program offices.
General Counsel, Damon Smith
Damon Smith was sworn in as General Counsel on August 12, 2021. Prior to serving as General Counsel, Mr. Smith joined HUD as the Principal Deputy General Counsel in January 2021. Mr. Smith brings a variety of experience to the role, including prior experience serving within HUD, private practice, and urban planning. Read more about Mr. Smith’s background and experience here.
OGC Organizational Charts
To contact a manager or supervisor in the Office of General Counsel, headquarters, click here.
Below is an overview of the nine Divisions of the Office of General Counsel headquartered in Washington, DC.
Attorneys in the Office of Assisted Housing and Community Development (OAHCD) provide legal support for the activities of the Office of Housing, the Office of Public and Indian Housing, and the Office of Community Planning and Development. OAHCD attorneys perform the legal work for all Departmental assisted housing and community development programs, including the programs authorized under the United States Housing Act of 1937 (i.e., section 8, and public housing), Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (Community Development Block Grants, or CDBG), Title II of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act (HOME Investment Partnership Program), the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (Emergency Solutions Grants and Continuum of Care Programs), as well as housing programs for the elderly and disabled, and Indian Housing Block Grants for Native American tribes.
The attorneys in the Office of Ethics, Appeals and Personnel Law (OEAPL) provide legal services to the Secretary and all HUD offices. The work of EAPL pertains to the programs and functions relating to personnel and ethics law, including responsibility for legal issues relating to labor and employee relations, personnel, adverse actions, EEO and ethics. Attorneys in the Personnel Law Division represent the agency in administrative hearings and litigation filed before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) and the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). The Ethics Law Division provides advice and counsel to HUD employees, principal staff, and management officials across the nation on extremely confidential and sensitive issues. These issues relate to employee standards of conduct, financial disclosures, and the criminal conflicts of interest under Federal law. The staff also provides counseling, training and legal opinions on political and official travel, the Hatch Act, gift acceptance and post-government employment restrictions. The Division also provides advice and guidance to the Secretarial Designee who has the authority to render opinions on appeals of administrative decisions in Fair Housing Act and other cases. Additionally, the office is responsible for handling appeals of FOIA decisions.
The Office of Fair Housing (OFH), along with HUD’s Regional Counsel, supports the work of the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) to enforce the Fair Housing Act and to ensure HUD and grantee compliance with fair housing and civil rights requirements through enforcement and other means. There are two divisions in the Office of Fair Housing — the Enforcement Division and the Compliance Division. The Enforcement Division is the legal office responsible for affirmative enforcement of the Fair Housing Act (Act). The Division provides legal and policy support to FHEO in connection with FHEO’s investigation of complaints of housing discrimination under the Act. The Compliance Division provides legal advice and support to FHEO and other HUD program offices relating to grantee and HUD compliance with federal civil rights laws and regulations, including the Fair Housing Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, and Section 109 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974. Compliance Division attorneys work collaboratively with FHEO investigators to develop and conduct civil rights-related investigations relating to grantees’ programs and activities.
The Office of Finance, Procurement and Administrative Law (OFPAL) is comprised of three divisions. The Finance Division is counsel to the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae). The Division provides Ginnie Mae with legal guidance on matters of statutory and regulatory interpretation and is responsible for working with the Department of Justice on all Ginnie Mae litigation. Attorneys in the Procurement Law Division provide legal support for the Department’s Chief Procurement Officer and perform legal work required in connection with the Department’s acquisition of goods and services. The Division provides legal guidance on contract solicitations and represents the Department in contract claims litigation at the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals and bid protests at the Government Accountability Office. The Administrative Law Division provides legal advice involving general administrative law matters to the Secretary and all HUD offices, which includes appropriations, the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, delegations of authority, interagency agreements, memoranda of understanding, public/private partnership agreements, international travel and the Department’s environmental and labor law requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Davis-Bacon Act. The Division also serves as program counsel to the Department’s Office of Policy Development and Research, the Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control and Promise Zones.
The attorneys in the Office of Insured Housing (OIH) serve as program counsel for the Office of Housing and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The Office of Insured Housing is comprised of the Single-Family Mortgage Division and the Multifamily Mortgage Division. Attorneys in the Single-Family Mortgage Division provide legal advice and assistance to FHA program staff relating to all single-family housing programs, housing counseling programs, and the Department’s Manufactured Housing program. Attorneys in the Multifamily Mortgage Division provide legal advice and assistance to FHA in connection with the multifamily and healthcare mortgage insurance portfolios, consisting of multifamily rental projects, healthcare facilities, and hospitals. Attorneys also serve as program counsel for the Risk Sharing mortgage insurance program, the second component of the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, and the Mark-to-Market debt restructuring program.
The attorneys in the Office of Legislation and Regulations (OLR) are experts on the legal authorities governing the legislative and rulemaking processes and provide legal support to the Secretary and all HUD program offices. The attorneys in the Legislation Division have the principal responsibility for coordinating the Department’s legislative agenda with the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. The attorneys in the Legislation Division work with the Department’s leadership to develop, draft, and clear the Department’s legislative proposals across all policy areas; and provide legal advice in connection with new legislation, the legislative process, and questions arising from related laws in program operations. The attorneys in the Regulations Division have the principal responsibility for coordinating the Department’s regulatory agenda. The attorneys in the Regulations Division work with the Department’s leadership to develop, draft, and clear the Department’s regulations, and other policy documents published in the Federal Register and are primarily responsible for providing legal advice on the rulemaking process and authorities, and executive orders and statutes that may impact rulemakings. The attorneys are also responsible for coordinating HUD policy positions on other executive agency regulations and government-wide policy statements and circulars that affect HUD in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget.
The attorneys in the Office of Litigation (OL) represent the Secretary and all Department offices in supporting the work of the Department of Justice to defend the agency in Federal Court litigation. The Office of Litigation includes the Insured Housing and Community Development Litigation Division and the Assisted Housing and Civil Rights Litigation Division. The office oversees HUD’s most consequential and precedential lawsuits, which involve constitutional, statutory, regulatory, and contractual challenges to HUD programs nationwide or entail litigation risk that could cost millions of dollars. The Office of Litigation works with the Department of Justice to handle all aspects of the litigation process. Its attorneys develop litigation strategy, draft briefs, argue motions, negotiate settlements, and gather facts. They also assess the litigation risk of proposed HUD actions and policies.
Within OGC, the Operations attorneys and professional staff supports all budget and financial management and human capital needs of OGC, including labor management relations, and efforts to support recruitment, succession planning, employee engagement, and employee development. Additionally, the Operations staff supports the Department’s electronic-discovery efforts and compliance and other OGC systems and applications.
The Office of Program Enforcement (OPE) provides legal support to the Secretary and HUD’s program offices and the Departmental Enforcement Center. In addition to the enforcement support detailed above, attorneys support the Office of Multifamily Housing in defending the decisions made by the Multifamily Participation Review Committee to deny participation in HUD programs. Attorneys also work with the Department of Justice on affirmative civil actions and the defense of HUD in connection with appeals of administrative enforcement actions.
OGC’s ten Regional Offices provide legal support and services to Regional Directors, Field Office Directors, and program offices located in the Region. Regional Offices are comprised of two divisions: Litigation and Program Services.
For a list of Regional and Field Counsel in OGC’s Regional Counsel offices, click here.
Attorneys in the Litigation Division are located in the Regional Office and handle civil litigation and administrative proceedings on matters involving fair housing enforcement and compliance, FOIA appeals, employee and labor relations, tort claims, bankruptcy, and foreclosures. In Regions with a Departmental Enforcement Center, the Litigation Division also provides legal services in support of enforcement actions.
Attorneys in the Programs Division can be located in the Regional or Field Offices and provide legal support to the offices of Multifamily Housing, Community Planning and Development, Single Family Housing, Assisted Housing, and Procurement and Administrative Law. Programs Attorneys provide legal support and services for HUD’s transactional work, including multifamily closings, refinances, transfers, and assignments.
In addition to the Regional Offices, OGC has staff in Field Offices throughout the country that provide legal services in support of local program matters and goals. The highest ranking OGC employee in a Field Office is often the Chief Counsel, who reports to the Regional Counsel.
For a list of Regional and Field Counsel in OGC’s Regional Counsel offices, click here.