Employees are subject to a number of limitations on their outside activities. Most importantly, employees may not be involved in outside activities that conflict with their official duties. An activity conflicts with official duties:
Employees may engage in fundraising in a personal capacity, as long as they don't solicit funds from subordinates or from anyone who does business with the Agency. Also, employees may not use or permit the use of their official titles, positions or authority to promote the fundraising effort.
NASA has published a regulation governing outside activities at 5 CFR Part 6901. This regulation serves three purposes: it defines what outside activities are covered by the regulation, it prohibits certain types of activities, and it sets out the process for approval of outside activities.What activities are covered by NASA's rules?
NASA's regulation only covers activities that meet the definition of outside employment. Employment, in general terms, means business relationships, but not most community services. Technically, outside employment means any form of compensated or uncompensated non-Federal employment or business relationship involving the provision of personal services by the employee. It includes, but is not limited to, personal services as an officer, director, employee, agent, attorney, consultant, contractor, general partner, trustee, teacher, or speaker. It includes writing when done under an arrangement with another person for production or publication of the written product. It does not, however, include participation in the activities of a nonprofit charitable, religious, professional, social, fraternal, educational, recreational, public service, or civic organization, unless the organization is a prohibited source or unless such activities involve the provision of professional services or advice, or are for compensation other than reimbursement of expenses.
NASA doesn't prohibit much. Basically, NASA employees are not allowed to be, in effect, subcontractors to NASA. More precisely, a NASA employee may not engage in outside employment with (1) a NASA contractor, subcontractor, or grantee in connection with work performed by that entity for NASA; or (2) a party to a Space Act agreement, Commercial Launch Act agreement, or other agreement to which NASA is a party pursuant to specific statutory authority, if the employment is in connection with work performed under that agreement.
The approval process is the most important issue for the majority of outside activities. NASA requires advance approval for outside employment involving the following:
Even when not required, a NASA employee who is in doubt as to the propriety of outside employment or another outside activity may request prior approval using the procedures set forth in the regulation.
A request for approval of outside employment has to be in writing, and has to include the following:
For everyone else, the appropriate Associate Administrator or Center Director (or a person designated to act for the Center Director) approves or disapproves requests with concurrence of their supervisor and the appropriate legal office. For NASA Headquarters personnel that means the Associate General Counsel (General); and for Center personnel it means their Center's Chief Counsel.