49 CFR § 831.59 - Authority during investigations.

§ 831.59 Authority during investigations.

(a) General authority of investigators. To carry out the statutory responsibilities of the agency, an NTSB investigator may -

(1) Conduct hearings;

(2) Administer oaths;

(3) Require, by subpoena or other means, the production of evidence and witnesses;

(4) Enter any property where a major marine casualty or marine casualty subject to the NTSB's jurisdiction has occurred, or wreckage from any such major marine casualty or marine casualty is located, and take all actions necessary to conduct a complete investigation;

(5) Inspect, photograph, or copy any records or information (including medical records pursuant to paragraph (b)(2) of this section), and correspondence regardless of the date of its creation or modification, for the purpose of investigating an accident;

(6) Question any person having knowledge relevant to a marine casualty or major marine casualty.

(b) Subpoenas. The NTSB may issue a subpoena, enforceable in Federal District Court, to obtain testimony or evidence related to its investigation of a marine casualty or major marine casualty, including but not limited to personal electronic devices.

(1) The NTSB's authority to issue subpoenas includes access to medical records and specimens.

(2) For purposes of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), Public Law 104-191, and the regulations promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services, 45 CFR 164.501 et seq., the NTSB is a “public health authority” to which protected health information may be disclosed by a HIPAA “covered entity” without the prior written authorization of the subject of the records. In addition, the NTSB may issue a subpoena to gain access to such information.

(c) Examination of evidence. In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 1134(d), the NTSB has exclusive authority to decide when, and in what manner, testing, extraction of data, and examination of evidence will occur.