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Legal Office

Bernard J. Roan, Chief Counsel, Legal Office

The Legal Office provides in-depth legal support to the Center's activities, including satellite installations and offices. In general, the Office provides ethics counseling and general legal services; participates in procurement and other contractual agreement activities; provides advice and assistance to the Director and to JSC organizational components in planning, directing, and conducting Center activities which may have legal implications; conducts legal research and maintains a law library; aids in the development of new administrative techniques and identification of alternatives for the resolution of managerial problems within the framework of law, program schedules, and NASA administrative practices; and serves as JSC's primary point of contact on litigation and other legal matters within or beyond the Center.

The Chief Counsel reports to the Center Director.

In the case of general legal matters, the Office provides counseling on a variety of general legal matters that include ethics, personnel matters, claims for and against the Center, review of internal Agency policies and procedures, public access to Agency records, Space Act agreements, Center activities affecting the environment, and legal issues concerning real and personal property. This Office also serves as the Agency's/Center's legal representative before the administrative boards of other Federal agencies and serves as the primary point of contact with the Department of Justice in litigation matters.

More specifically, ethics functions include counseling employees and Center management officials regarding The Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, and the NASA supplement thereto, and include but is not limited to outside employment activities, financial conflict-of-interest issues, post-Government employment matters, and review of public and confidential financial interest reports and resolution of issues arising from the review. In addition, the Office negotiates and prepares Space Act agreements, memorandums of understanding, reimbursable agreements, loan agreements, and interagency agreements.

Representational responsibilities before other Federal agencies involve the Office in matters such as discrimination complaints before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, personnel actions before the Merit Systems Protection Board, unfair labor actions before the Federal Labor Relations Authority, safety issues before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and environmental issues before the Environmental Protection Agency or the authorized state enforcement agency.

In the area of Center contracts, the Office provides legal advice and services relating to the processes of entering into and administering contracts. With respect to contract formation, functions include legal review of solicitations, contracts, and supporting procurement documentation; drafting solicitation and contract provisions; providing continuing advice and counsel to buyers, contracting officers, and source evaluation boards which conduct major Center procurements; providing advice to Center management regarding procurement actions and source selections; and participating in contract negotiations.

Activities also include providing advice when some aspect of a Center procurement is challenged and defending protests to procurements. Legal functions concerning contract administration include furnishing advice in the interpretation of contract provisions and on the propriety of proposed actions to be taken under contracts (e.g., the issuance of change orders, terminations), as well as advice concerning the legal soundness of positions taken by contractors and the Government on matters at issue. When such matters cannot be resolved through negotiation and become formal disputes, this Office provides advice and assistance in the development of the contracting officer's final decision and litigation file and acts as, or provides advice to, counsel trying cases before the Armed Service Board of Contract Appeals or Federal court.

Other significant functions of this Office are providing advice with respect to requests for procurement information submitted under the Freedom of Information Act; practicing pre-ventive law by means such as conducting training sessions and publishing a procurement law newsletter; and keeping abreast of new developments on procurement law by review of a wide variety of source information.

Mailing Address:
NASA - Johnson Space Center
Legal Office
Mailcode AL
2101 NASA Parkway
Houston, TX 77058