The execution of nondisclosure agreements raises three issues: NASA employees' inability to make binding commitments on behalf of NASA, the practicality of complying with specified nondisclosure conditions, and the unnecessary redundancy of such agreements.
NASA employees generally do not have signatory authority to bind the United States or NASA. Such an official commitment can only be made in the context of a contract, grant or formally executed Space Act agreement under delegated authority from the NASA Administrator.
You are free (but not required as part of your job) to execute a nondisclosure agreement that clearly purports to bind only yourself. However, you should be very careful not to personally commit to any conditions with which you cannot practically comply -- e.g., unreasonable length of commitment, potential conflict with official responsibilities.
Finally, you should understand that a personal commitment on the part of a NASA employee to keep proprietary data confidential is largely redundant. Federal employees, including NASA employees, are already subject to 18 U.S.C. § 1905, which provides:
"Whoever, being an employee of the United States..., publishes, divulges, discloses or makes known in any manner... any information coming to him in the course of his... official duties..., which information concerns or relates to trade secrets, processes, operations, style of work, or apparatus, or to the identity, confidential statistical data, amount or source of any income, profits, losses, or expenditures of any person, firm, partnership, corporation, or association...shall be fined not more than $1,000, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and shall be removed from office or employment."
In light of the substantial penalties to which you are already subject for the unauthorized disclosure of proprietary information, your execution of a nondisclosure agreement is unnecessary. However, should you choose to personally execute a nondisclosure agreement in the context of your job, the following format would be legally acceptable:
This will acknowledge that [name of party providing information] has provided (or may in the future provide) personally to me, in the course of my official duties, for the limited purpose and under the conditions described, the following information:
[summary descriptions of the information, the limited purpose for which the information is (or may be) provided, and the specific conditions of nondisclosure]
I hereby agree with regard to such information that I will fully comply with the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 1905 under penalty of the fine, imprisonment, and removal provisions set out therein.
[printed name of individual]
Please call if you have any further questions.
NASA's policy on Space Act Agreements is stated in NPD 1050.1F, dated November 13, 1998, entitled "Authority to Enter Into Space Act Agreements." More information is provided in NPG 1050.1, dated December 30, 1998, entitled "Space Act Agreements" and FMM 9090 the Financial Management Manual.
Correspondent with the Space Act Agreement, the Glenn Research Center (GRC) actively pursues partnerships with our customers in industry, other Government agencies, academia, and in some cases foreign partners. The Space Act Agreement manual has been developed to walk a GRC employee through the process of developing and processing all of these types of agreements. This manual discusses the types of decisions that need to be made in preparing an agreement, the approval levels and types of justification documents required for particular decisions, samples of these document and agreement templates.
Partnerships between GRC and other parties are a way to infulence limited resources, promote capabilites, share knowledge. When these partnerships require NASA's resources with a non-NASA entity, an agreement is required. The terms and conditions of this agreement require a series of buiness and progammatic decisions. The basic decisions remain the same wheter they involve domestic, foreign, funded, unfunded, reimbursable, nonreimbursable or just proposed work.
On all agreements, agreement amendments, agreement terminations, endorsement letters, and letters of intent, the Office of Chief Counsel concurrence is required. The Office of Chief Consel is responsible for guaranteeing that all agreement s are legally enforceable, dot not violate exisiting laws or regulations and are consistent with NASA policy.
The Chief Counsel has been given the authority by the Center Director to sign agreements related to the settlement of claims involving damage to property, the commitment of resources necessary to respond to discovery request n court actions or proceedings involving NASA or NASA employees and FOIA, as well as agreements with the city of Cleveland, Department of Port Control.
OFFICE OF CHIEF COUNSEL | General Law | Ethics | Procurement | Litigation | Claims | Agreements | Intellectual Property | Reference Materials
OCC Web Team
Date Last Modified: 7/17/00