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Summary of Decisions - December 16, 2013 – December 20, 2013

December 20, 2013 - 8:16am

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Personnel Security Hearing (10 CFR Part 710)

On December 20, 2013, a Hearing Officer determined that an individual’s security clearance should be restored. In reaching this determination, the Hearing Officer found that the individual had successfully addressed the DOE’s security concerns relating to her conduct. Specifically, the Hearing Officer concluded that the individual had mitigated the DOE’s concerns regarding criminal activity, specifically, her previous arrests for Domestic Violence, and regarding her association with a person involved in criminal conduct, in this case, her ex-husband who was abusing prescription drugs and using illegal drugs.  OHA Case No. PSH-13-0102 (William M. Schwartz)

On December 20, 2013, a Hearing Officer issued a decision in which she concluded that an individual’s request for a DOE access authorization should not be granted.  A local security office referred the individual’s request for a security clearance to administrative review after receiving derogatory information regarding the individual’s use of alcohol, and a diagnosis by a DOE psychologist that the individual suffers from Alcohol Dependence.  In considering the record and testimony, the Hearing Officer found ample evidence to support the DOE psychologist’s diagnosis of Alcohol Dependence.  While the individual disagreed with the opinion of the DOE psychologist, he presented no evidence to refute the diagnosis apart from his own testimony.  Moreover, the individual failed to show that he had taken any steps toward rehabilitation or reformation from his excessive use of alcohol, as recommended by the DOE psychologist.   The Hearing Officer therefore concluded that the individual had failed to mitigate the security concerns associated with his use of alcohol.  OHA Case No. PSH-13-0104 (Diane Demoura)

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Appeal

On December 16, 2013, OHA remanded in part a FOIA Appeal filed by Torres Consulting & Law Group, LLC, (Appellant) of a determination issued by the Loan Programs Office (LPO).  In its request, the Appellant requested certified payroll records of contractors.  LPO released documents to the Appellant but withheld information under Exemptions 4 and 6 of the FOIA.  The Appellant claimed that LPO improperly withheld the wage rates under Exemption 4.  OHA disagreed stating that release of that information could cause the contractors substantial competitive harm by giving their competitors an undue advantage in bidding on future contracts.  The Appellant also claimed that LPO should not have relied on Exemption 6 to withhold commercial and financial information in the payroll records.  OHA agreed but noted that the information was properly withheld under Exemption 4, and so OHA did not remand the matter on that issue.  The Appellant also argued that once the contractor employees’ names, addresses, and other identifying information was withheld, those employees no longer had a privacy interest in the deduction, contribution, and payment information.  OHA agreed and remanded the matter for LPO to issue a new determination either releasing the information or justifying its withholding under a different provision of the FOIA.  Therefore, OHA denied the Appeal in part and remanded the Appeal in part. OHA Case No. FIA-13-0074

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