Authority To Retain Private Legal Counsel To Represent Federal Employees

B-130441: Apr 12, 1978

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GAO was asked to determine whether the Justice Department has any statutory authority under Attorney General’s Order 683-77 (January 19, 1977) to retain private legal counsel who are not under the supervision of the Attorney General to represent Federal employees in civil suits brought against them in their individual capacity.  GAO was also asked to describe the liability, if any, of the Department under its existing contracts with private legal counsel, if it was determined that the Department is without such authority.  Additionally, GAO was asked to discuss any modifications which might be necessary to three Comptroller General decisions dealing with retention of outside counsel.  GAO concluded that the Attorney General’s policy of hiring private counsel not under his supervision in appropriate cases to represent employees or former employees charged as individuals with improper conduct while serving as employees of the United States is proper and within his authority to protect the interests of the United States.

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