General Counsel of the Navy

3/12/2010 - Present

The Honorable Paul L. Oostburg Sanz

The Honorable 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, 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.

On March 20, 2013, the Secretary of Defense appointed Oostburg Sanz to be the Interim Convening Authority for Military Commissions and the Interim Director of the Office of Military Commissions (OMC).  In this role, he convenes military commissions, refers charges to trial, approves or disapproves any proposed plea agreements, reviews records of trial, provides an accused with the opportunity for clemency before taking action on the findings and sentence of a military commission and oversees all resourcing and logistical support for OMC operations.  He oversees an operation of more than 290 civilian and military personnel, with an annual operating budget of over $80 million.

From January 2007 until his appointment as General Counsel of the Navy, 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.  Oostburg Sanz was also instrumental in the 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, Oostburg Sanz provided critical policy advice and counsel regarding the legislation establishing the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Before joining the HIRC, 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.

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.


Updated: 27 June 2014