NTSB General Counsel

​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Office of General Counsel advises, assists, and represents the Safety Board in support of its activities relating to transportation safety; and as sole legal advisor, has responsibility for determining legal policy for the agency. The Designated Agency Ethics Official of the NTSB, who administers the Ethics program on behalf of the Chair, is located in and supported by the Office of General Counsel. ​​

Requests for Board Information for Legal Proceedings

​No portion of a Board report , related to an accident or investigation of an accident, may be admitted into evidence or used in a civil action for damages resulting from a matter mentioned in the report. (49 U.S.C. § 1154(b)) Of course, a variety of material issued by or under the control of the Board or its employees may be of interest to private litigants and other individuals.

49 C.F.R. Part 837 contains procedures to be followed when requesting material for use in legal proceedings (including administrative proceedings) in which the National Transportation Safety Board is not a party. Requests for material have been divided into two categories:

  • ​Requests for material contained in the NTSB's official public docket or its computerized database (see 49 C.F.R. Part 801 for the types of documents routinely issued by the Board) are directed to the Records Management Division (49 C.F.R. § 837.3)
  • ​Requests for production of other materials in response to a demand of a private litigant, court or other authority should be directed to the Office of the General Counsel. (49 C.F.R. § 837.4)

Testimony of Board Employees

​To ensure that Board employees are devoted to the investigation and study of safety issues and to ensure that the Board does not have undue influence on private litigation, particular limitations are placed on the testimony of Board employees. (49 C.F.R. Part 835)

All requests for Board employees to testify must be addressed to the General Counsel, who approves or denies such requests. (49 C.F.R. § 835.6)

A Board employee's testimony may be available for use in actions or suits for damages in the form of deposition testimony or responses to written interrogatories. Board employees may not appear and testify in court in such actions (49 C.F.R. § 835.5(a)). See 49 C.F.R. § 835.5(b)-(d) for additional restrictions on depositions and testimony.

A Board employee may testify only as to the factual information they obtained in the course of an investigation. They will decline to testify regarding matters beyond the scope of their investigation and shall not give any expert or opinion testimony. (49 C.F.R. § 835.3(b))

Regulations Relating to NTSB Operations

​NOTE: The most current edition of the Code of Federal Regulations can be accessed at the Government Printing Office's Federal Digital System (FDsys) website. Please refer to the FDsys website for CFR texts.

  • Jurisdiction: 49 U.S.C. § 1133
  • ​Rules of Practice in Air Safety Proceedings: 49 C.F.R. Part 821
  • ​Rules of Procedure for Merchant Marine from Decisions of the Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard: 49 C.F.R. Part 825
  • Rules Implementing the Equal Access to Justice Act of 1980: 49 C.F.R. Part 826
  • Organization and Functions of the Board and Delegations of Authority: 49 C.F.R. Part 800​​
  • Public Availability of Information: 49 C.F.R. Part 801
  • ​Notification and Reporting of Aircraft Accidents or Incidents and Overdue Aircraft, and Preservation of Aircraft Wreckage, Mail Cargo, and Records: 49 C.F.R. Part 830
  • Accident/Incident Investigation Procedures: 49 C.F.R. Part 831
  • Testimony of Board Employees: 49 C.F.R. Part 835
  • Production of Records in Legal Proceedings: 49 C.F.R. Part 837
  • Rules of Practice in Transportation; Accident/Incident Hearings and Reports: 49 CFR Part 845
  • NTSB is considered a "Public Health Authority" for purposes of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). See specifically 64 FR 59956, Nov. 3, 1999 and 45 C.F.R. § 164.512(b)(1)(i)

Regulations Relating to Ethics Program

  • Standards of Conduct: 5 C.F.R. Part 2635
  • Financial Disclosure Reports: 5 C.F.R. Part 2634
  • Post-employment Restrictions: 5 C.F.R. Part 2641
  • OGE Form 201: Request to Inspect or Receive Copies of Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial Disclosure Reports or Other Covered Records

Ethics team listing:

  • Kathleen Silbaugh, Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO)
  • Andrew Welz, Assistant Designated Agency Ethics Official (ADAEO)
  • Krishawn Graham, Assistant Ethics Official
  • Ambery Bowman-Smith, Administrative Officer

Rulemaking ​​


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