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Advice and Counsel

Perform legislative, legal and policy-influencing research and provide necessary legal support for the agency’s Divisions/units. Specific areas that are supported include OPRA, HIPAA, Guardianships, Inter-agency MOU’s, Litigation, Regulations, EEO, Central Registry, Ethics, Employment, Retaliation, CEPA, and the ADA.

 
 
Compliance/Risk Management


• Open Public Records Act (OPRA).  The OLRA oversees, tracks, reports on and provides information requested via OPRA.
• Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).   The OLRA provides advice and counsel to the Division/units on issues related to confidentiality, PHI, Business Associates Agreements as it relates to requests for information, contracting, MOU/MOAs and breaches.
• Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). The OLRA receives complaints of retaliation for taking protected actions under CEPA.  The OLRA will investigate or work with designated staff to investigate such complaints and recommend appropriate remedial action. 
• Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The OLRA provides advice and counsel to the Divisions/units on issues related to reasonable accommodation; reviews all denials of requests for reasonable accommodation; provides training. 

 
 
Liaison to the Attorney General

• The Office Legal Affairs (OLA) functions as the Department’s liaison to the Office of the Attorney General.  All requests for OAG opinions/advice (formal/informal) are handled and process through the OLA to the Office of the Attorney General.
• All tort and employment litigation is coordinated through OLA.  OLA receives and processes all Notice of Claims and Summons and Complaints served on DHS as well as coordinates representation, discovery and document production, deposition preparation and scheduling, mediation, settlements and trial preparation. 

 
 
Liaison to the State Ethics Commission

• OLA functions as the Department’s liaison to the State Ethics Commission (SEC) and is responsible for ensuring compliance with the New Jersey Conflict of Interest Law, the regulations, the Uniform Ethics Code and Administrative Order 4:05 (DHS Code of Ethics). 
• Develop, implement and maintain a comprehensive communication/training plan for Central Office staff.
• Evaluate and transmit all allegations of employee ethics violations to the SEC.
• Consult and provide guidance to Division ELOs, HR and OER staff.

 
 
Liaison to the Office of Administrative Law

• The OLA functions as the Department’s liaison with the Office of Administrative Law for activities related to rulemaking and public notices.
• Provide qualitative reviews of division/business unit rulemaking documents; ensure compliance with OAL and Governor’s office requirements.
• Coordinate, train and advise agency Administrative Practice Officers. 

 
 
Administrative Orders

Direct and coordinate the development, amendment and rescission of Administrative Orders governing agency operations.

 
 
Other Duties

• The OLA functions as the Department’s liaison to the Governor’s Counsel, the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Office of Administrative Law. 
• As required, OLA staff analyzes and perform research into state and/or federal legislation pertaining to department programs, functions and procedures. Produce recommendations, briefs and other documents as directed.
• Review and provide direction and input for Agreements, contracts, and MOUs/MOAs when a Division/unit is a party to the agreement. 
• As necessary, coordinate department wide initiatives that impact the core duties of the OLA.
• OLA is a representative member of the Compromise Panel. 
• Participate, at the request of the Commissioner or designee, on any special committees formed to deal with policy/department operations. 

 
 
 
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