General Law Division (GLD)

About General Law Division

The General Law Division provides oral advice and written legal opinions concerning the administration and management of the Department, areas which, in general, are governed by statutes and regulations of Government- and Department-wide applicability. The General Law Division is responsible for providing legal services in all areas of administrative law not specifically assigned to other divisions within the Office of the General Counsel.

The General Law Division staff is available to provide training on all topics listed below.  Please send training requests to GeneralLaw@doc.gov. Your request(s) and/or question(s) should include bureau/line office, phone number, and description of training and/or information your are requesting.  You may also send General Law related questions to this email address.

Office Description

Agreements – Whenever you hold yourself out to the public as doing something jointly with another party, or transfer funds between parties, you need to have a Memorandum of Agreement to document the relationship. Click here for more information on the agreement process [pdf] and the types of MOAs available to you. Current Model Agreements. Click here for MOU FAQs.

Appropriations Law – We advise on all aspects of spending and accepting funds including: time purpose and amount restrictions on the use of appropriated funds, interpretation of appropriation act language, and applicability of legislative restrictions and Comptroller General opinions to appropriated fund activities; use of the Department’s Working Capital Fund; use of the gift and bequest fund; acceptance of user fees. There are limitations on the use of appropriated funds for trinkets and food. Guide for expending funds on food; Guide for expending funds on trinkets.

Conferences – Planning a conference? Conferences present many legal issues such as: payment, partners, fees, sponsorships, food, travel, honoraria, logos and trinkets/giveaways. Please follow the links to find out more information about each of these or click here for conferences FAQs.

Government Property – the Division provides advice on GSA’s personal property regulations. Link to OAS property management page.

Intellectual Property – The Division is also responsible for providing Departmental offices and agencies with intellectual property advice in the areas of Internet law, trademark, copyright and domain name practice. This may include performing trademark and domain name searches, licensing DOC marks and other Departmental branding activities; responding to unauthorized use and infringement of Departmental marks, addressing questions on the use of copyrighted materials, reviewing requests to sign releases and other matters. Click here for template IP agreements.

Logos – As part of its IP portfolio, General Law also provides legal guidance on the use of Departmental Seals, emblems, insignia, and logos (collectively logos) by bureaus and operating units; the use of these logos by an outside party; the creation of new logos; and the use of logos as it relates to endorsement. Attached is an FAQ about logos and our office’s form [pdf] for permission to authorize the use of Department logos by outside entities.

Official Travel – the Division provides advice on GSA’s Federal Travel Regulations.

Useful Resources

The Division also is responsible for providing advice and preparing opinions in a number of other areas, including: Department directives and delegations of authority; the classification and protection of records classified for national security reasons; printing; publishing and advertising.

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Tools and Resources
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We have attached a number of useful template documents for you to use. They are divided into two categories: those you can use and execute without further clearance, and...
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What is the FACA? The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) is a Federal law that governs the establishment and operation of advisory committees. It is implemented Government...
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General Conference Questions: What is a conference? Conferences generally involve participation by multiple Federal agencies, or bureaus within one agency, and may include...
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The Federal Advisory Committee (FACA), 5 U.S.C. §§ 5(b)(2) and 5(c) requires that when FAC’s are created their membership be fairly balanced in terms of the points of view...
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Agencies frequently request guidance about the propriety of using personal gifts, novelty items, or souvenirs (“trinkets”) to attract attention to an agency program or the...
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Can we use appropriated funds to purchase items to give away at the conference, i.e. mugs, t-shirts, magnets, etc.? Expending appropriated funds to purchase items that are in...
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If the conference is going to be a joint event , can we authorize the other party to use the Department of Commerce seal and/or a bureau logo or emblem on materials it prints...
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Can we pay honoraria to our invited speakers? Yes. Using appropriated funds to pay honoraria is authorized as a necessary expense for invited guest speakers. How much can we...
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Can we pay the travel expenses of those attending the conference? As a general rule, no, the government is prohibited from paying the travel expenses of those attending...
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Can we receive funds from sponsors to cover the costs of the conference? Yes, the Department may solicit sponsors and collect sponsorship funds under specific circumstances...
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Can we charge and retain attendance fees? As a general rule, no. The Federal government must have specific statutory authority to retain fees from outside sources. There is...
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If there is another agency or organization that shares our interest in the subject matter of the conference, is there a way to partner with that other agency in order to...
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If we have a contract with a conference planner, can the conference planner arrange for the provision of food at our conference and charge, collect, and retain a fee for the...
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Can we use appropriated funds to pay for a conference? Yes, as long as the agency determines that a formal conference is reasonably and logically related to carrying out its...
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General Conference Questions : What is a conference? Conferences generally involve participation by multiple Federal agencies, or bureaus within one agency, and may include...
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Use of the Department Seal and Other Existing Emblems, Logos and Insignia The Department of Commerce (DOC) has a number of policies governing the use of its Seal, logos,...
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Populating a Federal Advisory Committee (FAC) The Federal Advisory Committee (FACA), 5 U.S.C. §§ 5(b)(2) and 5(c) requires that when FAC’s are created their membership be...
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Operation A. Meetings - Public notice of all meetings - open and closed - must be published in the Federal Register (FR) at least 15 days prior to the meeting date (except in...
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Establishing a FACA Committee Determine the authority for the committee Determine your authority for the committee, whether: required by statute, required by the President or...
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Personal Gifts andd Souvenirs, i.e. "Trinkets" Agencies frequently request guidance about the propriety of using personal gifts, novelty items, or souvenirs (“trinkets”) to...
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Use of Appropriated Funds to Purchase Food As a general rule, an agency may not expend appropriated funds to provide food to Government employees or other individuals as it...
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The Division also is responsible for advising and providing clearance on all types of Departmental agreements. Agreement formats most commonly used are the following: (1)...
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Process for Legal Review and Clearance of Agreements Operating units should plan for a 30 day process when submitting agreements to the Office of the Assistant General...
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The General Law Division provides oral advice and written legal opinions concerning the administration and management of the Department, areas which, in general, are governed...
Last updated: 2017-06-26 16:40

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