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Summary of Decisions - July 14, 2014 – July 18, 2014

July 18, 2014 - 1:28pm

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Personnel Security (10 CFR Part 710)

On July 17, 2014, an OHA Administrative Judge issued a decision in which she concluded that an individual’s request for a security clearance should not be granted.  A Local Security Office (LSO) conducted a Personnel Security Interview of the individual to address concerns about his outstanding debt and alleged misrepresentations on his SF-86 forms.  In the Notification Letter, the LSO cited: 1) the individual’s federal delinquent tax debt for the years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2012, totaling $40,950.45; 2) the individual’s seven collection accounts totaling $52,949.63; 3) the individual’s account that is 60 days past due for $305; 4) the individual’s statements during his PSIs in August 2012 and September 2008, and a previous administrative hearing in February 2013, that he intended to resolve his outstanding debts, but during his PSI on January 30, 2014, he admitted that he did not resolve his debts; and 5) the individual’s failure to disclose on his QNSPs a federal tax lien for 2006.  After the hearing, the individual submitted documentation indicating that he paid off a majority of his tax debts and many of his debts that were in collection.  However, a large amount of debts in collection remain unpaid, and the individual disputed some of the other debts, but did not submit any documentation explaining the basis for his dispute or resolving his debts.  Hence, the Administrative Judge concluded that the individual did not sufficiently mitigate the concerns regarding his outstanding debts.  OHA Case No. PSH-14-0048 (Shiwali Patel)

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Appeal

On June 24, 2014, OHA issued a decision denying a FOIA Appeal filed by Tim Hadley (Appellant) of a determination issued by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).  In his Appeal, the Appellant challenged OIG’s withholdings under Exemptions 4, 5, 6, and 7(C).  OHA found that OIG properly withheld the information under all four exemptions.  OHA determined that the information withheld under Exemption 4 was commercial and financial information the release of which would cause substantial competitive harm to the submitter because it would give competitors an undue advantage when submitting proposals in the future.  The information withheld under Exemption 5 reflected the personal opinions of the writer of the information.  The information withheld under Exemption 6 applied to particular individuals, such as names, initials, and signatures; titles; and telephone numbers.  Release of the information would compromise a significant privacy interest of the person named who is not a federal employee.  The information identifying the names and signatures of the current federal OIG employees whose information was withheld, would also compromise a significant privacy interest.  Federal employees involved in law enforcement possess protectable privacy interests in their identities.  OHA has consistently found that OIG is a law enforcement agency and release of such information could result in identifying those OIG employees.  In balancing the privacy interests found, OHA also considered whether release would further the public interest by shedding light on the operations and activities of the government. OHA found that the public interest in the withheld information is minimal at best, and the privacy interest therefore outweighs the public interest.  The information withheld under Exemption 7(C) was the same information withheld under Exemption 6.  In this regard, the principal question addressed by OHA was whether the records were compiled for law enforcement purposes.  OHA found that the documents were compiled for such a purpose.  OHA Case No. FIA-14-0038

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