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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Office of the Chief Counsel


The mission of the Office of the Chief Counsel is to provide the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) with accurate, useful, timely, and comprehensive legal advice and services. The Office of the Chief Counsel supports the FHWA’s relationships with its partners through outreach and cooperation on legal matters relating to Federal transportation programs.

General Functions

Chief and Deputy Chief Counsel

J. Ayanna Butler, Chief Counsel

As the principal legal officer of FHWA, the Chief Counsel is the legal advisor to the Federal Highway Administrator, Deputy Administrator, Executive Director, Associate Administrators, Director of Field Services, Division Administrators, and Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers. The Deputy Chief Counsel assists the Chief Counsel in all matters and acts for the Chief Counsel as directed by the Chief Counsel or in the Chief Counsel’s absence. The Deputy Chief Counsel is the agency’s ethics officer.

Correspondence addressed to the Chief Counsel (HCC-1) and Deputy Chief Counsel (HCC-2) should be sent to Room E82-328 (HCC), U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE, Washington, DC 20590-9898.

Legislation, Regulations, and General Law Division

Performs all legal services and coordinates all legal activities related to FHWA’s legislative program, including the drafting of legislation and the preparation of agency comments on pending bills. Drafts legislative proposals, prepares reports on legislation, responds to Congressional inquiries involving legislative matters, provides technical assistance to Congress, prepares testimony and Congressional hearing briefing materials, and attends Congressional hearings and other Congressional staff meetings to assist committees and Department of Transportation witnesses.

Provides legal services related to the development and coordination of all FHWA regulations and guidance. Reviews directives and rulemaking actions for legal sufficiency and compliance with applicable Federal laws, Executive Orders, and regulations. Ensures publication of agency rulemaking documents and notices in the Federal Register and coordinates the rulemaking process with the Office of the General Counsel, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of the Federal Register.

For additional information about FHWA legislation and regulations, including legal links, please visit

Performs all legal services relating to FHWA’s internal programs, as well as Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) and international matters. Provides direct or assists with legal services regarding the following topics: appropriations and fiscal law; Federal grant management and integration of title 23 U.S.C. and CFR requirements with the government-wide grant common rule and cost regulations; contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants; cost recovery; compliance with Federal internal civil rights laws; intellectual property matters (trademarks, copyrights, patents); ethics/conflict of interest matters; research and development, technology matters; personnel matters; employee witness testimony matters; suspension/debarment actions under the Federal Acquisition Act; Federal Advisory Committee Act matters; and litigation involving the subject matters assigned to the Division, before any court, board or administrative body.

You can contact this office by writing to the Assistant Chief Counsel for Legislation, Regulations, and General Law, Room E82-322 (HCC-10), U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE, Washington, DC 20590-9898.

Program Legal Services Division

The Program Legal Services Division’s (HCC-30) primary responsibility is to provide counsel, legal review, and litigation support to these program offices:

  • Planning, Environment, and Realty
  • Infrastructure
  • Operations
  • Safety
  • Civil Rights
  • Federal Lands Highway

The Division also provides substantial legal services to two service offices:

  • Policy and Governmental Affairs
  • Public Affairs

HCC-30 is responsible for providing all legal services relating to FHWA's external programs (except fiscal law, appropriations law, technology-related programs, FOIA/Privacy Act programs, and the suspension and debarment program). It provides legal services for issues arising from Federal statutes and regulations that are applicable to projects funded or administered under Chapter 1 of title 23 U.S.C. (Federal-aid Highways) as well as the Federal Lands Program and Tribal Transportation Program under Chapter 2 of title 23 U.S.C. This function includes coordination with the Office of the General Counsel and counsel for the other DOT Operating Administrations when required or appropriate. The Division coordinates national legal policy with, and provides advice to, FHWA's field attorneys. HCC-30 is also responsible for litigation involving the subject matters assigned to the Division before any court, board, or administrative body. HCC-30 also assists with the litigation arising in the Field Legal Services Divisions areas, as needed.

HCC-30 provides legal counsel and assistance on the application of all environmental laws, regulations, and Executive Orders to the Federal-aid Highway Program programs. HCC-30 handles all legal issues related to the environment, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Environmental Justice, historic preservation, and many others. It is also responsible for all issues related to transportation planning, including the development of Statewide and metropolitan transportation plans as well as the Statewide Transportation Improvement Programs and Transportation Improvement Programs. HCC-30 provides advice and assistance with respect to land acquisition, land use, condemnation, control of right-of-way, and relocation assistance matters, including matters arising out of FHWA's responsibilities as lead Federal agency under the Uniform Relocation and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act. HCC-30 also provides legal counsel and assistance relating to the Highway Beautification Program (outdoor advertising and junkyard control) and the Recreational Trails Program.

HCC-30 provides all legal services related to external infrastructure programs, including stewardship and oversight, Federal-aid contract administration, performance management, asset management, Davis Bacon, Buy America, the national bridge and tunnel inspection programs, Bridge Bundling, National Highway System design standards, Interstate access, pavements, and the Emergency Relief program. HCC-30 also provides legal support in the administration of discretionary grant programs, including the Bridge Investment Program.

HCC-30 provides all legal services related to the highway safety program with the goal of reducing roadway-related fatalities and injuries. This includes program areas such as highway-rail grade crossing safety, pedestrian/bicycle safety, run-off-the-road crashes and guardrail safety, roadway hazard elimination, work zone safety, speed management, aggressive driving and red light running prevention, minimum drinking age, seat belt usage, drunk driving and standard blood alcohol levels enforcement, repeat offenders' penalties, open containers laws, and drug offender's license suspension.

HCC-30 provides legal services related to highway operations matters including issues related to the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), vehicle size and weight, designation of the National Network for large commercial vehicles, reasonable access to the National Network, and HOV/HOT lanes. HCC-30 also provides advice and assistance with respect to the development, execution and administration of grant agreements for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) and the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant programs.

HCC-30 provides legal services in support of FHWA's security responsibilities and activities through the development and implementation of standards and programs related to vulnerability assessments and emergency response capabilities of State and local departments of transportation.

HCC-30 provides overall legal support to the Office of Civil Rights in carrying out its oversight and program enforcement/compliance responsibilities for ensuring nondiscrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability, by organizations (State departments of transportation/highways, their sub-recipients and contractors) that receive Federal financial assistance. This includes providing advice and counsel regarding the implementation of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program, the investigation of complaints of discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the conduct of compliance reviews by division offices or headquarters.

HCC-30 provides legal support to the Office of Federal Lands Highway on program and policy issues such as legislative and regulatory issues regarding the Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP), Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), Tribal Transportation Program (TTP), as well as others. HCC-30 is responsible for all Indian law matters and supports the Office of Tribal Transportation.

You can contact this office by writing to the Assistant Chief Counsel for Program Legal Services, Room E82-336 (HCC-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE, Washington, DC 20590-9898.

Operations and Administration Division

Manages the FHWA Suspension and Debarment Program, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)/Privacy Act legal program, and provides overall administrative support to the Office of the Chief Counsel. Provides legal advice regarding personnel matters and policies, and manages all FHWA employment law litigation.

Manages legal services regarding the FOIA and Privacy Act and ensures full compliance with all Federal, DOT, and FHWA FOIA and Privacy Act regulations and requirements. Provides legal advice regarding the development of national policies and procedures in response to changes in legislative requirements, Federal regulations, and Departmental directives that relate to FOIA and the Privacy Act. Represents FHWA in conferences with DOT and other government agencies and actively participates on DOT and FHWA task force projects related to FOIA and the Privacy Act. Provides legal advice regarding FOIA matters, prepares recommended draft decisions on FOIA appeals, and handles FOIA federal court litigation in coordination with DOJ attorneys.

Manages the FHWA Suspension and Debarment legal program. Provides legal advice to the Suspending and Debarring Officials in connection with non-procurement and procurement-based suspensions and debarments. Negotiates settlement agreements and drafts proposed suspension and debarment documents. Handles Suspension and Debarment federal court litigation in coordination with DOJ attorneys. Works with other DOT entities to ensure an efficient and effective Suspension and Debarment program, and in developing process improvements for this program.

Manages legal services pertaining to employment law using a team approach relying on designated FHWA attorneys in this and other HCC Divisions. Renders legal advice and guidance to both headquarters and field offices regarding FHWA's internal civil rights programs, equal employment opportunity, anti-harassment, employee misconduct, grievances, performance issues, medical issues, leave administration, employee accommodations, whistleblower matters, and litigation issues. Litigates employment law cases, representing FHWA before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), U.S. District Courts, and U.S. Courts of Appeals.

Provides overall administrative support to the Office of the Chief Counsel. This entails developing, administering, and providing oversight to a comprehensive program essential to the general management of the office in the areas of travel, personnel and training, budget, meeting and conference planning, space and IT management, financial management, handling/controlling correspondence, print and publications, and administrative services such as records management, administering program services, and providing guidelines and procedures on office functions to the staff.

You can contact this office by writing to the Assistant Chief Counsel for Operations and Administration (HCC-40), Room E82-308, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE, Washington, DC 20590-9898.

Field Legal Services Divisions

These legal services divisions directly serve the FHWA Division Offices. All legal sufficiency reviews, related matters associated with the preparation of environmental documents, and work with the Department of Justice in the defense of challenged environmental actions are handled by the field legal offices. In addition, these offices provide legal support on such external and other program matters as Freedom of Information Act, requests for employee testimony, grants administration, Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, tort claims, and the American with Disabilities Act, and on such internal matters as personnel actions, employment discrimination, and ethics training and issues. This support and assistance includes representing the Agency before administrative boards or tribunals, and working with the Department of Justice with regard to Agency matters that are the subject of proceedings in Federal or state court. These offices also work closely with attorneys representing the State Highway Departments on matters of common legal interest. The Field Legal Services Divisions and the appropriate Chief Counsel’s Division in Headquarters consult with one another on matters as needed and to utilize specialized areas of expertise.

Correspondence to the Field Legal Services Divisions should be addressed to the Assistant Chief Counsels for the Divisions as follows:

North States:

Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont

Assistant Chief Counsel for Field Legal Services - North
Office of the Chief Counsel
Federal Highway Administration
George H. Fallon Federal Building
31 Hopkins Plaza, Suite 840
Baltimore, MD 21201

South States:

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia

Assistant Chief Counsel for Field Legal Services - South
Office of the Chief Counsel
Federal Highway Administration
75 Ted Turner Drive
Suite 1070
Atlanta, GA 30303

Mid-America States:

Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin

Assistant Chief Counsel for Field Legal Services - Mid-America
Office of the Chief Counsel
Federal Highway Administration
One Prairie Office Center
4749 Lincoln Mall Drive
Suite 600
Matteson, IL 60443

West States:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

Assistant Chief Counsel for Field Legal Services - West
Office of the Chief Counsel
Federal Highway Administration
12300 West Dakota Avenue
Lakewood, CO 80228

Federal Lands Legal Division

The Federal Lands Legal Division (HCC-FL) attorneys serve as Division Counsel to each of the three Federal Lands Highway (FLH) Divisions (Eastern, Central, Western). A senior member serves as Assistant Chief Counsel. HCC-FL provides legal services to the Associate Administrator for Federal Lands Highway Program and the Senior Staff on project-related issues.

HCC-FL conducts legal review of all solicitations and awards and related procurement issues, specifications development, and procurement policy coordination. HCC-FL handles all bid protests before the Government Accountability Office (GAO); litigates construction claims before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals; coordinates with the Department of Justice on claims filed in the Court of Federal Claims or appeals to the Federal Circuit; and investigates and defends tort claims. In addition, HCC-FL assists with Freedom of Information Act matters; provides ethics advice and training; and reviews environmental documents and assists with any related litigation in Federal District Court.

You can contact the Federal Lands Legal Division by writing the Assistant Chief Counsel, Federal Lands, at Room E82-322 (HCC-FL), U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE, Washington, DC 20590-9898.

For useful legal links available on the Web please visit: