General Counsel

Office of General Counsel

Gary M. Stern, General Counsel

Who We Are

The General Counsel is the National Archives' chief legal officer and adviser. The Office of General Counsel's primary functions are representing the agency in court and providing legal counsel to the agency. The General Counsel also serves as NARA's Chief FOIA Officer, Senior Agency Official for Privacy, Dispute Resolution Specialist, and Senior Agency Official for Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI).  In addition to the General Counsel, the office staff consists  of eight attorneys, a four person FOIA/Privacy Act team, a paralegal, and a staff assistant.  

What We Do

The Office of General Counsel:

  • provides legal advice,
  • conducts legal research and analysis,
  • engages in administrative and Federal court litigation in support of all National Archives' programs and activities.

These issues arise under the National Archives' governing statutes and related access and information laws, including:

  • Federal Records Act,
  • Presidential Records Act,
  • Presidential Libraries Act,
  • Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act,
  • Freedom of Information Act ( FOIA),
  • Privacy Act,
  • EO 13556, Controlled Unclassified Information,
  • other statutes governing Federal agencies, such as personnel, discrimination, tort claims, administrative, fiscal, and contract law

The Office of General Counsel also:

  • provides legal advice on issues relating to the National Archives' support foundation and the Presidential Library support foundations
  • advises and responds to questions from the White House and other agencies on records issues
  • oversees special access requests for Presidential Records by Congress and the Courts
  • formulates and recommends policy and provides advice to National Archives' and other agency staff via its access staff (which includes the National Archives' Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Privacy Act Officer)
  • directs RESOLVE, the National Archives' alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program.