General Counsel Department of the Navy
Paul L. Oostburg Sanz
Paul L. Oostburg Sanz became the 22nd General Counsel of the United States Department of the Navy
on March 12, 2010. As the General Counsel of the Navy, Mr. Oostburg Sanz is the Department’s
Chief Legal Officer. He leads nearly 1000 civilian and uniformed attorneys and staff in 140
offices worldwide, assists in the oversight of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and
advises senior Navy and Marine Corps officials on litigation, acquisition, contractual, fiscal,
environmental, property, personnel, legislative, ethics, and intelligence law matters. The
Office of the General Counsel of the Navy provides legal advice to the Secretary of the Navy,
the Under Secretary of the Navy, the Assistant Secretaries of the Navy and their staffs, and the
multiple components of the Department, to include the Navy and the Marine Corps, in the obligation
of an annual budget of over $170 billion and the management of over 900,000 service members and
civilians. Additionally, in coordination with the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, he ensures
that the intelligence, intelligence-related, and sensitive activities of the Department are
conducted in a legal manner. As General Counsel, he is also the senior ethics officer, oversees
the Suspending and Debarring Official on acquisition matters, and manages the Alternative Dispute
Resolution Program for the Department of the Navy.
From January 2007 until his appointment as General Counsel of the Navy, Mr. Oostburg Sanz served
as the General Counsel for the Committee on Armed Services in the United States House of
Representatives (HASC). As the Senior Legal Advisor to the Chairman of the Committee and its 61
other members, he provided legal counsel on an expansive range of national defense issues,
including the final drafting and passage of the annual National Defense Authorization Act. Mr.
Oostburg Sanz was also instrumental in drafting, and the passage of, the Military Commissions
Act of 2009. Prior to his work on the HASC, he served as the democratic Deputy Chief Counsel for
the Committee on International Relations in the United States House of Representatives (HIRC).
In this position, he provided legal expertise to the committee’s Ranking Member on legislation
and issues related to the Western Hemisphere, foreign assistance, and non-military security
assistance. At HIRC, Mr. Oostburg Sanz provided critical policy advice and counsel regarding the
legislation establishing the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Before joining the HIRC, Mr. Oostburg Sanz clerked for Judge José Fusté in the United States
District Court for the District of Puerto Rico; conducted political party training in South Africa
during its first-ever, all inclusive national elections, as a Project Officer for the Joint Center
for Political and Economic Studies; and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guinea-Bissau, West
Africa. He has also worked on judicial reform in Mozambique and the demobilization and
reintegration of child soldiers in Liberia.
Mr. Oostburg Sanz earned a Bachelor’s Degree magna cum laude from the Walsh School of Foreign
Service of Georgetown University, a Master in Public Affairs Degree from the Woodrow Wilson School
of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and a Juris Doctorate from Harvard
Law School. At Harvard Law School, he provided legal services to the indigent through the Harvard
Legal Aid Bureau and was a Teaching Fellow at Harvard University.