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Streuve Hensel, First General Counsel The Honorable James Forrestal, then Under Secretary of the Navy, founded OGC on September 10, 1941. Under Secretary Forrestal took his action on the recommendation of H. Struve Hensel, who subsequently became the first General Counsel of the Navy. The rapid increase in the volume and complexity of ships and aircraft being purchased at the beginning of World War II generated a similar increase in the number and complexity of legal issues. The need for a law office to deal with these business and commercial law problems became evident and the Office of the General Counsel was founded to respond to this need.

On December 13, 1942, Under Secretary Forrestal decentralized Navy contracting and authorized it to be performed by the various Navy Bureaus most familiar with Navy requirements, individual contractors, and the procurement process. Since then, Navy contracts have been awarded by Navy Commands and offices throughout the world, with advice from counsel assigned to them by the General Counsel. This decentralization of contracting authority is reflected in a parallel administrative decentralization of the Office of the General Counsel.

Over the ensuing years, the nature of OGC's legal practice has expanded in keeping with major legal developments nationally. For example, during the 1970s and 1980s, civilian personnel law became increasingly important, as did environmental law.

The cohesiveness of the attorneys who have served in OGC over the years is reflected in the number of OGC alumni who attend functions associated with OGC conferences held each year in May as well as a social events.

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