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Summary of Decisions - August 27 – August 31, 2012

August 31, 2012 - 10:14am

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Personnel Security (10 CFR Part 710)

On August 28, 2012, a Hearing Officer issued a decision in which he determined that an individual’s access authorization should be granted. In reaching this determination, the Hearing Officer found that the individual had resolved security concerns under Criteria H and J associated with her excessive consumption of alcohol in college and a determination from a DOE-contractor Psychologist (DOE-Psychologist), that, despite possessing good judgment and reliability, the individual suffered from Alcohol-Related Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified, and had been a user of alcohol habitually to excess in the past.  To demonstrate adequate evidence of rehabilitation, the DOE Psychologist opined that the individual would have to demonstrate a pattern of responsible alcohol consumption consisting of drinking only 2 to 3 alcoholic beverages per occasion.  At the hearing, the individual presented testimonial evidence indicating that, since receiving the DOE Psychologist’s report, she has complied with the DOE Psychologist’s recommendations with regard to alcohol use and had consulted a Counselor. Pursuant to a recommendation from the Counselor, the individual abstained from alcohol for the two months prior to the hearing. After listening to the hearing testimony, both the DOE Psychologist and the Counselor believed that the individual had resolved any doubts regarding her judgment and reliability arising from her past alcohol use. Given the evidence produced at the hearing, the Hearing Officer found that the individual had resolved the Criteria H and J concerns and that the individual should be granted a security clearance.  OHA Case. No. PSH-12-0043 (Richard Cronin, H.O.)

On August 30, 2012, an OHA Hearing Officer issued a decision in which she determined that an individual=s access authorization should not be restored.  In reaching this determination, the Hearing Officer found that the individual had not resolved the security concerns arising from his financial difficulties.  The individual has a pattern of financial irresponsibility dating back to 2008.  He has consolidated his credit card debt and finally declared bankruptcy.  The bankruptcy was filed after he received the Notification Letter informing him that his security clearance was being suspended.  The individual did not establish a pattern for financial responsibility prior to the hearing.  After considering all the evidence and testimony in the proceeding, the Hearing Officer found that the individual had not mitigated the Criterion L security concerns raised in the Notification Letter.  Therefore, the Hearing Officer concluded that the individual’s access authorization should not be restored.  OHA Case No. PSH-12-0069 (Janet R. H. Fishman, H.O.)

On August 30, 2012, an OHA Hearing Officer issued a decision in which he concluded that an individual’s suspended DOE access authorization should not be restored.  A DOE Operations Office suspended the individual’s security clearance and referred him to administrative review under 10 C.F.R. Part 710, citing as security concerns issues pertaining to the individual’s financial problems and his diagnoses of Pathological Gambling Disorder and Impulse Control Disorder NOS.  After conducting a hearing and evaluating the documentary and testimonial evidence, the Hearing Officer determined that the individual was taking the right steps to address his psychological and financial problems, but that he had not abstained from gambling and from making poor financial decisions long enough to convince the Hearing Officer that a return to these patterns of behavior was sufficiently unlikely. Specifically, the Hearing officer found that the individual’s four months of abstinence from gambling and one month of therapy were inadequate. Consequently, the Hearing Officer determined that the individual had not mitigated the security concerns and that his clearance should not be restored.  OHA Case No. PSH-12-0055 (Robert B. Palmer, H.O.)

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

On August 27, 2012, OHA issued a decision denying an appeal (Appeal) from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) determination issued by the DOE’s Richland Operations Office (ROO).  The National Security Archive, the Appellant, requested copies of a specific report dealing with a methodology for the production of plutonium from the Department’s Office of Information Resources (OIR). OIR referred the Request to ROO since it was the office most likely to possess the report described by the Appellant and, after a search of its records, ROO provided the Appellant a report (Graphite Report) it believed was responsive to the Appellant’s request. However, the Appellant stated that he was not seeking the Graphite Report but was seeking an Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) report Numbered “KB 789” (Report). ROO again searched using the new information provided by the Appellant but was unable to find the Report. The Appellant appealed claiming that the Report must exist because it was mentioned in another AEC document.  During the pendency of the Appeal, OHA provided OIR with the new description of the Report (No. KB-789) and OIR conducted its own search at DOE Headquarters. Again, no copy of the Report was located. After obtaining the details of the search that was conducted, including details as to the manual searches and the electronic database searches that were made by ROO and OIR, OHA found that both offices had conducted a search reasonably calculated to locate the Report. OHA Case No.: FIA-12-0045 (Richard Cronin, H.O.)

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