Reimbursement of the Department of Justice for Providing Legal Assistance to the Department of Health and Human Services

Headnotes: 

The Department of Justice may be legally reimbursed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for attorney services provided pursuant to the Economy Act, through the employment of additional attorneys in the Office of the United States Attorney, to assist in the defense of HHS against claims filed under the Social Security Act in federal district court.

Attorneys employed in that capacity using HHS funds may not “conduct” litigation, but may only “assist” in litigation, because the Justice Department has the exclusive obligation and authority to conduct litigation on behalf of the United States and HHS has no independent litigation authority.

In order to justify the foregoing arrangements under the Economy Act, HHS must demonstrate that it is more economical or efficient to purchase such services from the Department of Justice than to provide the services itself.

Updated July 9, 2014