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Office of General Counsel

About the NSA OGC


NSA's Office of General Counsel (OGC) is responsible for ensuring that the legal authorities that NSA has been asked to execute on behalf of the nation's security are properly and reliably discharged.

The rule of law plays a vital role in not only the conduct of NSA's operations, but also the security of our nation. One of NSA's core values is respect for the law, and the Agency is committed to ensuring that its missions are grounded in adherence to the U.S. Constitution and compliance with the U.S. laws, regulations, and policies that govern its activities.

The General Counsel is NSA's chief legal officer and serves as the head of OGC, which provides legal services to every component of the Agency worldwide. The General Counsel directly advises the NSA/CSS Director and senior Agency leadership.

NSA OGC is a component of the Department of Defense's Defense Legal Services Agency (DLSA) and reports to the Department of Defense General Counsel. In addition to providing legal services directly to its Agency clients, the office also coordinates closely with the Agency's overseers at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Justice, and with its counterparts around the Intelligence Community and across all three branches of Government.


NSA OGC employs over 100 attorneys, who function in a manner comparable to corporate in-house counsel. The office's structure, however, has been adapted to the operations of an intelligence agency. For example, OGC provides legal advice on a wide array of legal topics, including intelligence operations, procurement, research and development, information security, environmental law, patents, telecommunications, security matters, legislation, employment and personnel issues, and ethics. OGC attorneys also protect NSA interests in litigation involving NSA activities, personnel, and information.

OGC organizational structure diagram

Description of the NSA Office of General Counsel organizational structure: The General Counsel and Principal Deputy General Counsel are at the top; The General Counsel and Principal Deputy General Counsel are connected to the Deputy General Counsel for Operations and the Deputy General Counsel for Litigation & Management below them. Below the Deputy General Counsel for Operations falls Operational Authorities and Operational Support. Below the Deputy General Counsel for Litigation and Management falls Administrative Law & Ethics Acquisition Research & Technology and Litigation. Connected to the right of General Counsel & Principal Deputy General Counsel are Law & Policy and connected to the left of Law & Policy is Legislation.

NSA OGC is supervised by the General Counsel and Principal Deputy General Counsel. The Deputy General Counsel for Operations oversees the Operational Authorities and Operational Support practice groups. The Deputy General Counsel for Litigation and Management oversees the Litigation; Administrative Law & Ethics; and Acquisition, Research & Technology practice groups. Finally, the Associate General Counsel for Law & Policy oversees the Legislation practice group and attorneys in certain policy positions. Each legal practice group is headed by an Associate General Counsel.