49 CFR § 831.9 - Authority during investigations.

§ 831.9 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 otherwise, the production of evidence and witnesses;

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

(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 their creation or modification, for the purpose of investigating an accident;

(6) Take possession of wreckage, records or other information if it determines such possession is necessary for an investigation; and

(7) Question any person having knowledge relevant to a transportation accident.

(b) Subpoenas. The NTSB may issue a subpoena, enforceable in Federal District Court, to obtain testimony or evidence related to an accident, 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 DHHS, 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 timing, manner and method of testing and examination of evidence, and extraction of data.