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Tyler S. Posey is general counsel of the Peace Corps, a U.S. government agency that currently has approximately 6,800 volunteers serving at the grass-roots level in 70 countries around the world. The legal department has 10 lawyers and two administrative staff. 1. What’s top of mind for you in your job right now? What’s in those folders piling up on your desk? In general, the Office of General Counsel is working on a priority basis to provide legal counsel to the director, Gaddi Vasquez, as he implements President George W. Bush’s call in his second State of the Union address to renew the promise of the Peace Corps and double the number of volunteers over the next five years. As is true of everyone at Peace Corps headquarters, our primary job is to support the volunteers in the field, especially by maintaining their safety and security. We also make sure the legal foundation is in place for the Peace Corps to strengthen its internal operations through strategic management of human capital, competitive sourcing, improving financial performance, expanding electronic government, and integrating budget and performance so that results are measurable. I have been particularly involved in providing the legal support needed to accomplish important agency goals, including a full exposition on the unused management flexibility available in the Peace Corps Act. We have a challenging and stimulating job that keeps us happily occupied. In addition to the fiscal year 2003 appropriations legislation that most government agencies need and are anticipating shortly, the Peace Corps must be reauthorized for FY 2004 and beyond. Our office is working closely with our Congressional Affairs Office and the Office of Management and Budget to prepare the administration’s bill. As for the current stack of individual folders on my desk, we have such topics as foreign affairs and the First Amendment, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations promulgated by Health and Human Services, negotiation of new Peace Corps country agreements, diversity, public-private partnerships, ethics regulations, and issues under the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act. At the director’s insistence, my Designated Agency Ethics Official manages a robust ethics program. We also do a fair amount of litigation before administrative tribunals and work with the offices of the U.S. attorneys in judicial litigation. In various stages of drafting, negotiation, and implementation are a number of memorandums of understanding between the Peace Corps and the Centers for Disease Control, Habitat for Humanity, the National Geographic Society, UNICEF/Paraguay, and others. We also have pending a number of proposed revisions to the Peace Corps Manual, our internal “rules of the road” for agency management: for example, telecommuting, fraternization, and agency reorganization. It is a major mission of this office to provide the legal support necessary for the Peace Corps to have an up-to-date, comprehensive manual that clearly articulates agency internal policies and provides a framework for carrying out these policies. 2. Describe your nonlegal or administrative duties. How much time do you spend as a manager of lawyers and staff? What are the top issues and challenges you face in that area? On a great day, my nonlegal duties involve participation in matters of Peace Corps policy. This can include serving as a sounding board for ideas of the Peace Corps country directors or meeting with the leadership team at headquarters to determine how we can best meet our statutory purpose, which is to promote world peace and friendship. Our mission is to help requesting countries meet their need for trained manpower, help them better understand the American people, and help the American people better understand other peoples. On a merely good day, I work on administrative matters, including the office budget and expenditures, employee performance appraisals (’tis the season now), and whatever else I need to do as a manager to maintain the high level of performance that our small but talented group of lawyers and staff have achieved so far. Since I have a great office manager and collegial lawyers who don’t need micromanagement by me, I’d guess I spend only about 35 percent of my time on administrative duties. 3. What kind of work do you send out? What do you keep in-house? We don’t send anything out since, as a general matter, government agencies may not contract for legal services. Everything stays in-house. Of course, we are not above taking advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience that is out there in the world of government counsel. The Peace Corps has most of the same issues and problems of larger government agencies. 4. Whom does your department regularly turn to at other agencies? We work very closely with our counterparts at the State Department, USAID, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. There are some very fine lawyers there. I have also been extremely impressed with and grateful for assistance we have received as needed from the Office of Legal Counsel at Justice, the Office of White House Counsel, the Counsel to the Vice President, the Commerce Department, the Office of Government Ethics, and the Department of Health and Human Services. But again, I am blessed with a really fine group of lawyers who can handle anything. We help each other out, get along very well, and enjoy coming to work together every day.

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