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Summary of Decisions - August 20 – August 24, 2012

August 29, 2012 - 10:16am


Personnel Security (10 CFR Part 710)

On August 22, 2012, a Hearing Officer issued a decision in which he determined that an individual’s access authorization should be restored. In reaching this determination, the Hearing Officer found that the individual had resolved security concerns under Criterion J associated with his history of excessive consumption of beer and a determination from a DOE-contractor psychologist, that, despite not currently suffering from an illness that could cause a defect in judgment and reliability, the individual had been a user of alcohol habitually to excess in the past. At the hearing, the individual presented testimonial evidence that he had reduced his current consumption of beer to less than 14 drinks per week – less than the National Institute of Health standard for “risk drinking” cited by the DOE psychologist. The individual also presented evidence that he had completed an alcohol awareness class and had been evaluated by a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who determined that the individual did not require treatment for his past excessive alcohol consumption. The DOE psychologist, after listening to the testimony at the hearing, found that the individual had demonstrated the ability to control his consumption of alcohol and had a low risk of returning to problematic alcohol use. Given the evidence produced at the hearing, the Hearing Officer found that the individual had resolved the Criterion J concerns and that his security clearance should be restored. OHA Case No. PSH-12-0065 (Richard Cronin, H.O.)

On August 24, 2012, an OHA Hearing Officer issued a decision finding that the individual’s security clearance should not be granted. A local DOE office had referred the individual’s request for a security clearance to administrative review under 10 CFR Part 710 citing the following information as security concerns: (1) an opinion in December 2011 by a DOE psychiatrist that the individual meets the criteria for Alcohol Dependence, in partial remission; (2) a 2001 charge for public intoxication; and (3) admissions by the individual that he drinks to escape job-related stress; that his wife asked him four to five years ago to stop drinking alcohol; that his drinking to intoxication has negatively impacted his family time because he cannot function; that he is concerned about his ability to respond to an emergency because he uses alcohol to excess.  After considering all the testimonial and documentary evidence in the case, the Hearing Officer found that the individual is enthusiastically embracing his new-found sobriety, is dedicated to his treatment program, and now understands the negative physical, psychological and emotional impact that alcohol had on his life. She determined, however, that only time will tell whether the individual’s enthusiasm will wane, or whether he will succumb to some stressor which might cause him to seek comfort in alcohol. The Hearing Officer also accorded weight to the expert opinion of the DOE psychiatrist who opined that the individual needs one year of sobriety before he would consider him reformed or rehabilitated, and the recommendation of the individual’s treatment center which established a one-year marker as a qualifier to the individual’s receiving a good prognosis.  The Hearing Officer therefore concluded that it was simply too early in the individual’s recovery to find that he is adequately rehabilitated or reformed from his Alcohol Dependence.  OHA Case No. PSH-12-0039 (Ann S. Augustyn, H.O.)

On August 24, 2012, an OHA Hearing Officer issued a decision in which she concluded that an individual should be granted DOE access authorization.  A DOE Operations Office referred an applicant for a security clearance to administrative review under 10 C.F.R. Part 710, citing as security concerns issues pertaining to the individual’s use of alcohol, including the opinion of a DOE consultant-psychiatrist that the individual was a user of alcohol habitually to excess, as well as the individual’s past arrests.  After conducting a hearing and evaluating the documentary and testimonial evidence, the Hearing Officer determined that the individual mitigated the security concerns.  The Hearing Officer found that the individual acknowledged his alcohol problem and took steps to address it by becoming an active participant in Alcoholics Anonymous – attending several meetings per week, working closely with a sponsor, and working the program’s 12 steps.  In addition, the individual, having committed to abstinence from alcohol, demonstrated six months of abstinence from alcohol and both his sponsor and the DOE consultant-psychiatrist opined that he was unlikely to relapse in the future.  In addition, the Hearing Officer concluded that the concerns raised by the individual’s past arrests were mitigated by the passage of time and the individual’s increased maturity in the years since the arrests.  Consequently, the Hearing Officer determined that the individual had mitigated the security concerns and the DOE should grant him a security clearance. OHA Case No. PSH-12-0047 (Diane DeMoura, H.O.)