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Office of Chief Counsel

The Office of the Chief Counsel's mission is to support FEMA's efforts to help people before,during, and after disasters by providing the Agency with high quality legal advice, counsel, risk analysis, and dispute resolution services through a knowledgeable, accessible, responsive, and solution-oriented network of innovative and ethical legal professionals.

Through its 11 legal divisions and offices, the FEMA Chief Counsel is responsible for ensuring legally sound implementation of FEMA statutory responsibilities, advising on the development and issuance of policies and regulations, representing FEMA in litigation, and providing legal guidance and direction to all components of FEMA.  This includes providing legal counsel on matters such as:

  • alternative dispute resolution
  • federal insurance and mitigation
  • ethics
  • legislation, regulations, and policy coordination
  • human resources, labor relations, and equal opportunity
  • information, intellectual property and privacy matters
  • budgetary and fiscal law
  • acquisition, grants, and property management
  • planning and preparedness
  • response and recovery

Leadership

Chief Counsel: Adrian Sevier

Principal Deputy Chief Counsel: Michael Cameron

Deputy Chief Counsel - General Law: Daniel Hall

Deputy Chief Counsel - Operations Law: Carol Ann Adamcik (Acting)

Our Legal Divisions

FEMA Alternative Dispute Resolution Office
Director Cindy Mazur

The Alternative Dispute Resolution Division (ADR) Supports decision making, collaboration, and problem solving.  The purpose of ADR is to help make the best decisions going forward.  Making good decisions and working things out are two of the top things that people can do to accomplish the mission, get the most from the people they work with, get recognized for their accomplishments, and build their careers at FEMA.  ADR is available to support any FEMA program office, employee, manager, supervisor, or team lead in their efforts to make the best decisions.  Better decisions mean more successful outcomes, fewer distractions from mission, and a workplace that works together at the highest level.  

Counselor to the Chief Counsel
Counselor Elizabeth Katchka

The Counselor to the Chief Counsel provides comprehensive legal support and counsel to and on behalf of the Chief Counsel on legal policy matters and for organizational administrative and management issues. 

Coordinates or advises Chief Counsel and OCC managers on OCC organizational administrative and management matters to maintain and improve OCC efficiency, effectiveness and success, including though business processes, staff satisfaction and development, and operational planning. 

Manages and coordinates within OCC, and on behalf of OCC within FEMA, consideration and analysis of long-term and agency-wide implications of cross-cutting, novel and complex, significant legal policy issues to ensure consistency and integration across programs.  This includes OCC legal advice and counsel in support of broad agency, governmental, or external initiatives, such as cross-functional initiatives related to the implementation of FEMA’s goals, strategies, and objectives, as well as FEMA-wide or multi-agency workgroups and task forces.

Oversees and manages Chief Counsel’s annual strategic legal initiatives, leading selected champions to achieve tangible, implementable solutions to transform legal policy or organizational status quo to address gaps and obstacles to OCC or FEMA mission.  OCC invites proposals from anyone in FEMA to identify gaps or efficiencies in FEMA organizational or legal/policy authorities, which may be ripe for OCC to spearhead as an office, or in conjunction with another office within FEMA, new or revised policies, directives, manuals, regulations, laws or institutional practices that could lend significant value to OCC or the Agency mission by reducing vulnerabilities and expenditures; promoting fiscal or legal accountability; or achieving clarity, consistency, fairness or efficiencies. 

Federal Insurance and Mitigation Division
Associate Chief Counsel Jordan Fried

The Federal Insurance and Mitigation Division furthers the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration’s (FIMA) mission of reducing the loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters through the provision of comprehensive, timely and professional legal counsel, and zealous and ethical representation in litigation for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), Flood Map Modernization, Mitigation grant programs, Flood Mitigation Assistance Program, National Dam Safety Program, National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, National Hurricane Program, for the Office of Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation, and for other programs and activities administered by FIMA.

Legal Counsel and Ethics Legal Division
Associate Chief Counsel Anna Marie Van Blarcum

The Legal Counsel and Ethics Legal Division provides solution oriented, articulate, legally sufficient, and timely legal advice and counsel on congressional, external affairs, legal policy, ethics, disability, and equal rights matters of interest to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

LCELD provides legal advice, guidance and counsel to the following client partner offices, including:  the Office of External Affairs (including Congressional Affairs, Strategic Communications, Private Sector, Public Affairs, Ready, and Intergovernmental Affairs); the Office of Policy and Program Analysis (OPPA) (including the Audit Liaison Office, International Affairs, Policy Working Group, and FEMAStat); the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination; the DHS Center for Faith-based a­­nd Neighborhood Partnerships; the Senior Law Enforcement Advisor; the National Advisory Council; Executive Secretariat; and the Office of Equal Rights.

In addition LCELD houses FEMA’s ethics office, which coordinates the provision of ethics advice through over 60 OCC certified ethics counselors nationwide. 

Mission Support Law Division
Associate Chief Counsel Joshua Stanton

MSLD's Mission Support Law Division (MSLD) provides legal services related to human capital law and litigation, information and privacy law and litigation, information technology, records management, real and personal property, bankruptcy, debt collection, and tort liability and litigation.

MSLD's Personnel Law Branch (PLB) represents FEMA in administrative fora and courts regarding labor and employment related matters, and provides legal services to FEMA related to human capital issues, administrative investigations, employment discrimination, labor relations, and employee misconduct and performance matters.

MSLD's Federal Litigation and Claims Branch (FC&LB) provides legal advice, services, and litigation support with respect to tort claims and litigation, employee claims, workers’ compensation, occupational safety and health, bankruptcy, debt collection, real property, and personal property.

MSLD's Information Law Branch (ILB) provides legal advice, services, and litigation support related to the disclosure, protection, maintenance, sharing, and storage of information in FEMA systems of records, and the management of FEMA’s information technology systems.

Procurement and Fiscal Law Division
Associate Chief Counsel Erik Claudio

The Procurement and Fiscal Law Division (PFLD) provides legal support to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer and the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer on all matters related to fiscal, acquisition, debt collection and appropriations law.  PFLD is responsible for contract litigation, bid protests, and suspension and debarment. PFLD also directly supports disaster operations by reviewing procurements by grantees for compliance with federal procurement standards and cost principles.

Professional Development
Director Linda M. Davis

This Division is responsible for managing a professional development program for the OCC staff that includes workforce readiness through training, credentialing, and developing professional capabilities and resources aligned with OCC's operational goals at the Field, Regional, and National levels to ensure effective and consistent response to all hazards. 

The Division's essential mission is two-fold:

  • Grow leaders with a set of core competencies that ensure mission readiness; and
  • Lead OCC's efforts to build a culture of high performance in law related knowledge, accessibility, and solution orientation. 

In developing and implementing this program, the Division considers OCC's delivery of legal services; identifies training mechanisms and curricula by which those services may be improved; engages in strategic and tactical planning; and collects and exchanges information to develop policy and deliver legal services.

Resilience - Preparedness Legal Division
Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Balint

The Resilience - Preparedness and Continuity Legal Division provides counsel to further the mission of the FEMA Resilience in coordinating preparedness and protection- related activities throughout the Agency. Legal counsel includes, but is not limited to, issues involving grants; planning; training; exercises; individual and community preparedness; assessments; lessons learned; and continuity and national capital region coordination. This Division also provides legal advice to the United States Fire Administration (USFA) in furtherance of its mission to reduce loss of life and property in emergencies and disasters.

Regional & Field Operations Legal Division
Associate Chief Counsel Keith Weiner (Acting)

The Regional & Field Operations Legal Division (RFOLD) provides accurate, coordinated, timely, and comprehensive legal advice and counsel to FEMA Regional Administrators, Federal Coordinating Officers, Recovery Office Directors, Command Staff, Branch Directors and other FEMA personnel at Regional Offices, Joint Field Offices, Closeout Facilities, Recovery Offices, and other disaster locations.

Regulatory Affairs Division
Associate Chief Counsel Liza Davis

Regulatory Affairs provides dedicated, responsive, and prudent legal advice on all matters related to regulations, rulemaking, and associated administrative laws and executive orders.

The Primary Functional Areas of this Division include:

  • Provides legal counsel, advice, guidance, opinions, and interpretations with respect to the substantive and procedural requirements of FEMA public rules, public rulemaking, and related regulatory matters.  
  • Responsible for assuring the legal sufficiency of internal instructions, notices, directives, and orders and public advisory information that interpret, implement, or are otherwise related to FEMA public regulations.  
  • Responsible for the overall coordination of each FEMA rulemaking.  
  • Provides centralized management and internal control of all FEMA regulations.
  • Maintains the official agency rulemaking docket and administrative record.
  • Serves as FEMA's liaison to the Office of the Federal Register.
  • Serves as FEMA's liaison to DHS OGC's Division of Regulatory Affairs.

Response and Recovery Legal Division
Associate Chief Counsel Mary Ellen Martinet

The Office of Chief Counsel Response and Recovery Division provides legal advice to the FEMA Response and Recovery Directorate to support FEMA's efforts to reduce loss of life and property and protect the Nation from all hazards by providing the Agency with high quality legal advice, counsel, risk analysis, and dispute resolution services through a knowledgeable, accessible, responsive, and solution-oriented network of innovative and ethical legal professionals.

The Response and Recovery Division is comprised of the following branches:

Response

  • Provide legal support in the development of Response plans, policies and doctrine and provide a legal review of all final products.
  • Maintain and manage the Field Counsel Cadre and provide first line supervision to all deployed field counsel, to include liaison between field counsel and Headquarters counsel on cross-cutting issues and issues of national significance.
  • Provide counsel to FCOs, their senior staff and program managers, deployed to Joint Field Offices and operating without the benefit of on-site field counsel.
  • Provide legal support, both planning and participation, for all levels of response exercises, whether developed by FEMA or requiring FEMA Response participation.
  • Coordinate response legal issues with FEMA Regional Counsel.

 Recovery

  • Provide legal advice to FEMA officials, program directors and managers seeking advice on the implementation of Stafford Act, Homeland Security Act, and other statutory authorities affecting the Recovery Program, as well as the implementation and effect on FEMA�s regulations and policies implementing the Recovery Program.
  • Provide legal advice which supports the appropriate implementation of all statutory authority and regulations affecting FEMA�s Recovery programs.
  • Serve as primary legal counsel in the Disaster Recovery Offices.
  • Provide legal support in the development of Recovery plans, policies and doctrine and provide a legal review of all final products.
  • With the Legislation, Regulation, and Policy Division, develop legislative proposals, regulations, and special projects as required in areas affecting Recovery.
  • Maintain liaison and cooperate with other Federal agencies in formulating U.S. policy on disaster Recovery matters
  • Serve as primary legal counsel on donations management. 

Disaster Litigation

  • Provide legal advice on 3rd party litigation matters including subpoenas or requests for documents or testimony.
  • Provide legal advice to program managers on court orders, settlements, lessons learned and best practices from dispute resolution, claims and litigation activity.
  • Coordinate with the other OCC litigation branches, Department of Justice, DHS OCC, component OCCs and other agency counsel as appropriate on litigation matters.
  • In support of the Associate Chief Counsel for Response and Recovery, coordinate with the Deputy Associate Chief Counsel for Response and the Deputy Associate Chief Counsel for Recovery on all cross-cutting response and recovery legal issues.
  • As directed by the Associate Chief Counsel for Response and Recovery, and in coordination with the Deputy Associate Chief Counsel for Response and the Deputy Associate Chief Counsel for Recovery, staff the OCC duty attorney function.
  • As directed by the Associate Chief Counsel for Response and Recovery, and in coordination with the Deputy Associate Chief Counsel for Recovery and the Deputy Associate Chief Counsel for Disaster Litigation, participate in exercises to prepmemare for man-made or natural events.
  • Serve as OCC�s representative to the FEMA Policy Working Group (PWG), including attending PWG meetings and coordinating review and comment on documents and policies circulated by the PWG. 
Last Updated: 
08/28/2019 - 16:04