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My Coast Guard
Commentary | April 19, 2024

Understanding USCG non-disclosure agreements

By MyCG Staff

If you’ve ever been interviewed during a Coast Guard investigation, you may have been asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) or been advised that you shouldn’t discuss certain matters without prior approval. The Vice Commandant recently issued guidance to clarify that all members of the Coast Guard workforce have a right to make certain protected disclosures to: 

  • Congress 
  • An Inspector General 
  • The Office of Special Counsel  
  • Any person or organization in the member’s chain of command 
  • Authorities responsible for investigating alleged violations 

What does this mean? 

Any NDA you may have signed does not override your whistleblower protections or your right to report waste, fraud, abuse of authority, and danger to public health or safety, even if the above rights were not specifically listed or provided. So, even if you have signed an NDA – or verbally agreed not to discuss certain sensitive or confidential matters – that agreement was not intended to and does not supersede applicable federal law or military policy. 

Every NDA previously issued by CGIS or others within the Coast Guard should be understood to include the following language: 

"These provisions are consistent with and do not supersede, conflict with, or otherwise alter the employee obligations, rights, or liabilities created by existing statute or Executive order relating to: 

  1. Classified information  
  2. Communications to Congress 
  3. The reporting to an Inspector General or the Office of Special Counsel of a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety,  
  4. Whistleblower protection. 

The definitions, requirements, obligations, rights, sanctions, and liabilities created by controlling Executive orders and statutory provisions are incorporated into this agreement and are controlling.” 

It is important to note that reporting evidence of waste, fraud, or abuse involving classified information or classified programs must continue to be made in accordance with the established rules and procedures designed to protect classified information. 

Past and current members with questions about NDAs previously issued by CGIS can contact Any victims of criminal offenses who may have questions about their right to communicate with third parties about ongoing or previously conducted investigations are encouraged to contact the Coast Guard’s Enterprise Victim Advocate, Capt. Laura Collins.  

For all general questions regarding NDAs or related laws and policies you may contact