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Summary of Decisions - October 7, 2013 – October 11, 2013

October 11, 2013 - 1:31pm

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Personnel Security Hearing (10 CFR Part 710)

On October 10, 2013, an OHA Hearing Officer issued a decision in which he concluded that an individual’s security clearance should not be restored.  A Local Security Office (LSO) received information that the individual had received garnishment notices from both federal and state tax authorities in January 2013.  The LSO suspended the individual’s security clearance, citing, inter alia, his unpaid taxes for prior years, his collections debt, his charged-off debt, and his delinquencies on his student loans. The individual and his wife credibly testified that during their 20-year marriage, the wife had managed exclusively the family’s finances and made their financial decisions.  Following suspension of the individual’s access authorization, he involved himself in the family’s finances for the first time. The Hearing Officer noted that the individual did a formidable job in stabilizing their finances, including resolving all of their collections debt, charged-off debt and delinquencies and creating a detailed, viable financial plan for the future. The Hearing Officer found that the individual’s abdication on financial matters could not exonerate him from accountability on financial matters.  Further, their financial plan to maintain their economic health would not be implemented until the month following the hearing. The individual and his wife having defaulted on a tax repayment agreement in 2011 after making only one payment and their being 120 days delinquent on student loans within a year after ending a forbearance period in 2012, reinforced that requirement that they demonstrate a new, sustained pattern of financial responsibility.  Any period of reformation could not begin until they had actually implemented their financial plan, which they had not yet commenced. OHA Case No. PSH-13-0070 (Wade M. Boswell)

On October 11, 2013, an OHA Hearing Officer issued a decision in which she concluded that an individual’s security clearance should be restored.  In April 2013, as part of a background investigation, the local security office (LSO) conducted a Personnel Security Interview (PSI) of the individual to address concerns about his positive drug test.  The individual’s behavior raised security concerns under the Bond Amendment and Criteria K and L.  After conducting a hearing and evaluating the documentary and testimonial evidence, the Hearing Officer concluded the individual’s use of his wife’s prescription medication happened under unusual circumstances that are unlikely to recur in the future, and to the extent that the behavior raised security concerns under Criteria K and L, she concluded that such concerns have been successfully mitigated.  The Hearing Officer further concluded that the individual is not “an unlawful user of a controlled substance or an addict,” within the meaning of the Bond Amendment.  Accordingly, the Hearing Officer concluded that the individual’s security clearance should be restored.  Case No. PSH-13-0069 (Kimberly Jenkins-Chapman)

On October 10, 2013, an OHA Hearing Officer issued a decision in which she concluded that an individual’s security clearance should be restored.  In March 2013, as part of a background investigation, the local security office (LSO) conducted a Personnel Security Interview (PSI) of the individual to address concerns about his alcohol use and alcohol-related incidents. During that PSI, the individual was referred to a DOE consultant psychologist (DOE psychologist) for an agency-sponsored evaluation who concluded that the individual suffers from Alcohol Abuse.  After conducting a hearing and evaluating the documentary and testimonial evidence, the Hearing Officer found that the individual demonstrated adequate evidence of rehabilitation from Alcohol Abuse and presented sufficient evidence to resolve the security concerns associated with his alcohol-related incidents.  Accordingly, the Hearing Officer concluded that the individual’s security clearance should be restored.  Case No. PSH-13-0071 (Kimberly Jenkins-Chapman).

On October 10, 2013, an OHA Hearing Officer issued a decision in which he determined that an individual’s DOE access authorization should not be restored.  The record showed that the individual had an arrest for driving while intoxicated (DWI), an arrest for failing to respond to an outstanding warrant, and an alcohol-related termination of employment.  A DOE psychologist also diagnosed the individual with Alcohol Abuse.  The Hearing Officer found that the individual had not shown that he was reformed or rehabilitated from his Alcohol Abuse.  Nor had the individual mitigated the security concerns raised by his criminal activity since that activity was symptomatic of his Alcohol Abuse.   However, the Hearing officer also found that an allegation that the individual had deliberately omitted information from a security questionnaire to be unfounded. OHA Case No. PSH-13-0088 (Steven L. Fine)

On October 10, 2013, an OHA Hearing Officer issued a decision in which she determined that an Individual’s access authorization should be granted.  In reaching this determination, the Hearing Officer found that the individual had resolved the security concerns arising from his falsification of Questionnaires for National Security Positions (QNSP), in 2007 and 2013, when he responded negatively to the question regarding his illegal drug use.  In 2011, after working at a DOE facility and understanding the security culture there, the individual realized he needed to be truthful.  Therefore, when he completed his 2011 QNSP, he indicated that he had used illegal drugs between 1996 and 2007.  In 2012, the individual entered the administrative review process and was afforded a hearing.  But, the individual left his DOE employment before a decision was rendered on his access authorization.  In January 2013, in conjunction with his new employment, the individual completed a third QNSP.  On that QNSP, he again responded “no” to the question regarding whether he had used illegal drugs in the last seven years.  However, in response to another question regarding his investigation and clearance record, the individual revealed that he previously held a security clearance and that clearance was suspended because he falsified information on his 2007 QNSP.  The Hearing Officer found that the Individual did not deliberately falsify the information on the 2013 QNSP since he honestly believed that it had been over seven years since he had last used marijuana.  The Hearing Officer found that the individual had deliberately lied about his marijuana use on the 2007 QNSP.   However, based upon the whole person concept, the Hearing Officer concluded that the individual had sufficiently mitigated this falsification by coming forward on his own initiative to correct the falsification prior to being confronted with it; showing that the falsification appeared to be unlikely to recur; by admitting to his drug use; and taking positive steps to reduce or eliminate his vulnerability to exploitation, manipulation, or duress.  OHA Case No. PSH-13-0091 (Janet R. H. Fishman)

On October 11, 2013, an OHA Hearing Officer issued a decision in which he concluded the DOE should not restore an individual’s access authorization.   A Local Security Office (LSO) cited concerns raised by the individual’s use of alcohol habitually to excess and an opinion of a DOE consultant psychologist (DOE psychologist) that the individual’s lack of maturity leaves significant questions as to his judgment and reliability.  After conducting a hearing and evaluating the documentary and testimonial evidence, the Hearing Officer did not find that the individual had an “illness or mental condition” that would raise a concern under the DOE regulations, but concluded that the individual had not presented sufficient evidence to mitigate the valid security concerns related to his use of alcohol.  The Hearing Officer found cause for continued concern, citing evidence that the individual continues to drink to a level of legal intoxication on a regular basis.  The Hearing Officer therefore concluded that the individual had not resolved the security concerns raised in the case.  OHA Case No. PSH-13-0064 (Steven J. Goering).

On October 10, 2013, an OHA Hearing Officer issued a decision in which she concluded that an individual’s security clearance should not be restored.  A Local Security Office (LSO) conducted a Personnel Security Interview of the individual to address concerns about his financial difficulties, specifically his federal income tax debts and his medical collection and credit union debts.  The LSO also raised concerns about dishonest statements that the individual made on four different occasions to the DOE in 2009 and 2011 regarding his status on his taxes.  After conducting a hearing and evaluating the documentary and testimonial evidence, the Hearing Officer found that the individual made some progress towards paying off his debts by entering into payment plans with the Internal Revenue Service and the credit union, and paying off his medical collection debt.  However, his debts remained significantly high, and he still had to start making payments towards the payment plans.  Moreover, only four months had elapsed since the individual became honest with DOE, and the Hearing Officer concluded that his false statements were not minor as they concerned his tax liability and were made during the DOE security process.  For these reasons, the Hearing Officer could not find that the individual had resolved the security concerns related to his handling of finances or his dishonest statements to the DOE.  OHA Case No. PSH-13-0097 (Shiwali Patel)
 

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