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Summary of Decisions - February 17, 2014 – February 21, 2014

February 21, 2014 - 9:46am

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Personnel Security (10 CFR Part 710)

On February 18, 2014, an Administrative Judge issued a decision in which he determined that an individual’s access authorization should not be restored. In reaching this determination, the Administrative Judge found that the individual had resolved security concerns regarding his alcohol-related arrest and a evaluative report from a DOE psychologist diagnosing him as suffering from Alcohol-Related Disorder.  However, the Administrative Judge determined that the individual had not resolved concerns regarding a February 2012 arrest for four criminal sexual offenses and for making differing statements regarding the incident that led to that arrest. At the hearing, the individual’s therapist and the DOE psychologist agreed that the individual had been rehabilitated regarding his alcohol use disorder.  Notwithstanding, the individual failed to persuade the Administrative Judge that he, in fact, had been wrongly arrested for the criminal offenses or that his differing statements were a result of police inaccuracies.  Because the felony arrests were relatively recent and potentially involved a felony offense, the Administrative Judge found that the individual had failed to present sufficient evidence to resolve the security concerns with regard to his reliability and trustworthiness.  OHA Case No. PSH-13-0119 (Richard Cronin)

On February 18, 2014, an OHA Administrative Judge issued a decision in which he determined that an individual’s DOE access authorization should not be granted.  The individual had a history of violent incidents and dishonesty. Following an evaluation, a DOE psychiatrist opined in his report that the individual had disturbed thought processes, cynical attitudes, antisocial behavior, cynical/hostile behavior, social discomfort, and potential substance abuse problems.  At the hearing, the individual unsuccessfully attempted to show that he did not intentionally mislead the DOE, and that he was not at fault in any of the violent incidents.  However, the record showed that the individual had repeatedly failed to report derogatory information about his behavior to DOE security officials and had exercised questionable judgment in most of the violent incidents in the record.  Consequently, the Administrative Judge found that the individual had not mitigated the security concerns raised by his actions and the DOE psychiatrist’s findings.  OHA Case No. PSH-13-0120 (Steven L. Fine)

On February 20, 2013, an OHA Hearing Officer issued a decision in which she determined that an individual’s access authorization should be restored.  In reaching this determination, the Hearing Officer found that the individual had resolved the security concerns arising from her alcohol use.  A DOE psychologist diagnosed the individual as suffering from alcohol abuse, principally based upon her two alcohol-related arrests.  At the hearing, the individual established that she had completed an intensive outpatient treatment program and that she had attended Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) regularly, including 110 meetings in 96 days.  The individual’s counselor, sponsor, and psychologist all testified that she is committed to her abstinence.  Her friend and her co-worker confirmed that assessment.  The DOE psychologist testified that the individual has a robust recovery program and that she is rehabilitated and reformed.  The Hearing Officer therefore found that the individual had sufficiently mitigated the security concerns with her use of alcohol.  Accordingly, since the individual’s arrests were alcohol-related, the Hearing Officer concluded that the security concerns about the individual’s judgment, reliability, and trustworthiness were also resolved.  OHA Case No. PSH-13-0111 (Janet R. H. Fishman)

On February 21, 2014, an OHA Administrative Judge issued a decision in which she concluded that an individual should not be granted a security clearance.  A Local Security Office (LSO) conducted a Personnel Security Interview of the individual to address concerns about his financial difficulties, specifically, his 20 outstanding debts, failure to pay his federal income taxes for 2008 and a lien on his property for his failure to pay his taxes.  The individual started facing financial troubles in 2009 when his real estate business failed.  The LSO also raised concerns about the individual’s misrepresentations as to his delinquent accounts and non-criminal court actions on his security form.  After conducting a hearing and evaluating the documentary and testimonial evidence, the Administrative Judge found while the individual mitigated some of the concerns regarding his outstanding debts, his debts still remained significantly high.  Moreover, he had yet to modify his mortgages concerning some of the debts related to his real estate and accordingly, he did not make payments on them for several years.  The individual also did not mitigate the concerns regarding his failure to list all of his outstanding debts on his security form.  For these reasons, the Administrative Judge could not find that the individual resolved the security concerns related to his handling of finances or his dishonest statements.  OHA Case No. PSH-13-0122 (Shiwali Patel)

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Appeals

On February 18, 2014, OHA issued a decision denying a FOIA appeal filed by Emily Meredith.  In a December 2013 determination, the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) indicated that its search for records responsive to Ms. Meredith request yielded two documents, which NNSA released in their entirety to Ms. Meredith.  In her Appeal, Ms. Meredith challenged the adequacy of NNSA’s search.  OHA concluded that NNSA’s search in response to Ms. Meredith’s FOIA request was reasonably calculated to reveal records responsive to the request.  Therefore, the search was adequate.  Accordingly, OHA denied Ms. Meredith’s appeal.  OHA Case No. FIA-14-0007

On February 18, 2014, OHA issued a decision denying a FOIA appeal (Appeal) of a determination issued by the DOE’s Office of Health, Safety and Security (HSS), concluding that it could not locate any responsive documents. The Appellant, Donna Deedy, requested “copies of correspondence between DOE officials and Keith Stalnaker, Dr. Jay Brown, or representatives of Paragon Technical Services, Inc. regarding the the [sic] disease links in HazMap and/or disease links in the Department of Labor’s [DOL] Site Exposure Matrix [SEM] from 2005 to present.” The Office of Health and Safety within HSS conducted the search. The Appellant contested the adequacy of the search for responsive documents pertaining to her FOIA Request and she argued that other offices within DOE and HSS should have conducted a search for documents. HSS explained that HS-10 conducted the search for responsive documents because HS-10 supports the implementation for the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act and there are no other offices within HSS that have that responsibility. OHA reviewed HSS’s description of its search methodology, and determined that an adequate search for documents was conducted and that no responsive documents existed.  Therefore, OHA denied the Appeal. OHA Case No. FIA-14-0012

On February 21, 2014, OHA issued a decision denying a FOIA appeal (Appeal) of a determination issued by the DOE’s Richmond Operations Office (ROO).  The Appellant, Paul DeRienzo, requested a “database printout of any documents with the keywords of ‘heat exchanger 4A’” for the time period of 1963 through 1964, and “any meeting minutes regarding leakages in the heat exchangers on or around July 18, 1963 and on or around June 10, 1963 with representatives of Burns & Roe, Combustion Engineering, and Kaiser Engineer as reported in the Irradiation Processing Department Monthly Report or June and July 1963.” While the ROO provided some documents that were responsive to the Appellant’s FOIA Request, the Appellant contended that ROO did not conduct an adequate search for records because ROO did not provide a copy of the requested meeting minutes.  OHA reviewed ROO’s description of its search methodology and search terms, and determined that it conducted an adequate search for responsive documents.  Therefore, OHA denied the Appeal. OHA Case No. FIA-14-0008

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