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NPD 2010.1E
Effective Date: June 06, 2013
Expiration Date: June 06, 2028
Printable Format (PDF)

Subject: Court Actions or Proceedings Involving NASA or NASA Employees (Revalidated 06/23/23)

Responsible Office: Office of the General Counsel

Update to comply with 1400 Compliance with administrative changes, correct citations and and added an Appendix A: Reference.
Update to comply with 1400 Compliance, with administrative changes.


NASA policy is that any information concerning court actions, or administrative or regulatory proceedings, brought on behalf of, or against, the United States, NASA, or any NASA current or former employee, resulting from alleged NASA activities, are promptly reported to the appropriate Center Office of Counsel, and/or to Headquarters Office of General Counsel. Activities without a legal advisor onsite or readily available should contact directly Headquarters' Office of General Counsel (General Law) at (202) 358-2465. NASA policy is also that service of process for private actions is generally voluntary; however, Field Centers may provide otherwise. Therefore, service of process onsite upon NASA employees and contractor employees, in their personal capacity (that is an allegation, complaint, or dispute not arising from their official NASA duties) may be voluntarily accepted by the individual, except if provided for otherwise by Center-specific regulation.


a. This directive applies to NASA Headquarters and NASA Centers, including Component Facilities and Technical and Support Service Centers.

b. This directive is in addition to, and does not replace, any other applicable requirements concerning court actions or proceedings such as those set forth in the below cited references.

c. For purposes of this directive, court actions or administrative or regulatory proceedings are all legal proceedings, in law or in equity, before a Federal, state, or local court or duly-constituted administrative body, brought on behalf of, or against, the United States, NASA, or any current or former NASA employee(s), even if not named as a party, in which it is contended that the matter complained of resulted from alleged NASA activities or operations or NASA personnel under color of authority. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) Naming NASA as a defendant or respondent or making allegations directed at an official activity of NASA personnel, or activities involving NASA contractors or subcontractors.

(2) Making allegations or assertions involving NASA's nonappropriated fund activities.

(3) Asserting injuries from or damages against a NASA officer or employee (involving such activities as contracting, transportation, property, or personnel) allegedly resulting from the conduct of official duties.

(4) Raising contentions involving the NASA Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

d. In this directive, all mandatory actions (i.e., requirements) are denoted by statements containing the term "shall." The terms "may" or "can" denote discretionary privilege or permission, "should" denotes a good practice and is recommended but not required, "will" denotes expected outcome, and "are/is" denotes descriptive material.

e. In this directive, all document citations are assumed to be the latest version unless otherwise noted.


The National Aeronautics and Space Act, as amended, 51 U.S.C. ยง 20113(m).


Demand for Information or Testimony Service on Agency Employees, 14 CFR pt. 1263.


a. Each NASA officer or employee who receives a complaint, subpoena, or any other form of notice of the existence of a court action or proceeding, will do the following:

(1) Provide prompt (within one working day) oral notification to the legal counsel of the affected NASA installation, that is,

(a) for Headquarters or Agencywide - the Office of the General Counsel.

(b) for Centers or Component Facilities - the Office of the Chief Counsel.

(c) for any matter involving the OIG - the Counsel to the Inspector General.

(2) No later than five (5) working days thereafter of the initial receipt (unless a longer period is agreed to by legal counsel), provide written notification to the appropriate legal counsel along with a copy of any and all pertinent papers received or documents served and specifically state the date of receipt or service.

(3) Service of process and related actions for garnishment of wages for child support or alimony are governed by the provisions of Processing Garnishment Orders for Child Support and Alimony, 5 CFR pts. 581, 582 and provide, among other things, for NASA counsel offices to accept service of process as agents for NASA. NASA counsel offices accepting service of process will advise and coordinate with the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) because NSSC inputs payroll data for NASA civil servants. In such instances, the CFR provisions should be directly consulted.

(4) Other than provided for in 5 CFR pts. 581, 582, NASA does not accept personal service of process for litigation initiated against NASA or NASA employees in their official capacities. Individual Centers may, however, permit by Center-specific regulation personal service of process on-Center for other matters. Any such Center regulation should address reservations or limits of jurisdiction.

(a) Service of Process for Private Actions is generally voluntary; Centers may provide otherwise. Occasionally, efforts are made to serve process on NASA employees or contractor employees while they are on duty and on NASA- owned or controlled property. Without a Center-specific regulation, though, employees should be notified that process is sought to be personally served upon them and that they may accept such service of process, but they need not be required to accept such service of process. The process server should be informed of this policy and of whatever decision the employee makes. Accordingly, absent Center-specific directive, security guards should not accept personal service of process (including complaints or subpoenas) on behalf of or for NASA, its employees, or onsite contractor employees.

(b) Subpoenas duces tecum (i.e., for documents) in litigation not involving NASA for documents should be handled in accordance with Demand for Information or Testimony Service on Agency Employees, 14 CFR pt. 1263.

(c) Only subpoenas issued by a court or decisional body will be acted upon. A court or decisional body issued subpoena will have the signature of the judge or presiding official. NASA does not consider subpoenas signed by clerk of courts or by attorneys under court authority to be "issued" by the body and thus are not actionable. Such incomplete subpoenas will be otherwise handled in accordance with 14 CFR pt. 1263.

b. Each Chief Counsel, taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of the action or proceeding, will forward, in a timely manner and by means appropriate to the situation, notice to the Office of the General Counsel and provide pertinent documents concerning the action or proceeding and information relevant to the alleged activities or personnel of the Center or Component Facility.


Center Directors may provide for acceptance of personal service of process by specific directive. Otherwise, delegation of authority is not applicable.




NPD 2010.1D, Court Actions or Proceedings Involving NASA or NASA Employees, dated April 4, 2008.

Revalidated w/change 2, dated 6/27/23, Original signed by

/s/ Charlie F. Bolden


A.1. Processing Garnishment Orders for Child Support and Alimony, 5 CFR pts. 581 and 582.

A.2 Claims Against NASA or Its Employees, 14 CFR Subpart (Subpt.) 1261.3.

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This document does not bind the public, except as authorized by law or as incorporated into a contract. This document is uncontrolled when printed. Check the NASA Online Directives Information System (NODIS) Library to verify that this is the correct version before use: https://nodis3.gsfc.nasa.gov.