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PSH-14-0004 - In the Matter of Personnel Security

On April 7, 2014, an OHA Administrative Judge issued a decision finding that the DOE should not restore an individual’s security clearance. The derogatory information at issue in the proceeding involved two matters under 10 C.F.R. 710.8(l) : (1) the individual’s failure to file or pay Federal income taxes, and other debts; and (2) inaccurate information that the individual provided on a 2013 Questionnaire for National Security Positions (QNSP) about a variety of matters, including a Federal tax lien levied against him, his outstanding tax liabilities, his delinquent child support payments, his overdue bills, his felony child abuse charge, his workplace discipline record and his termination from a former employer. 

After carefully reviewing the record, the Administrative Judge held that while the individual has entered into a payment plan with the IRS and had apparently extinguished his 2003 Federal tax liability, it is simply too soon to tell if he will satisfy all his obligations to the Federal government, including his outstanding debts for tax years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010. For this reason, she held that the individual has not mitigated the security concerns associated with his failure to satisfy his delinquent Federal taxes for five of the six years set forth in the Notification Letter.

With regard to his other outstanding debts, the Administrative Judge held that even though the individual has made some good faith efforts to compromise and settle with two of his eight creditors, he still has six outstanding debts which need attention. For this reason, she found that he has not mitigated all the security concerns associated with his outstanding debts.

Finally, the Administrative Judge found that while the individual had convinced her that technological challenges, coupled with his unique situation, explained in part why he had not accurately reported information on his electronic QNSP, she decided that other evidence in the record weighed against mitigation on this matter. Specifically, she noted as a negative factor that the individual had told the investigator from the Office of Personnel Management that he had not listed his debts on his QNSP because he had hoped to have them cleared up prior to the start of his background investigation. Also, with regard to the individual’s explanation for not listing his outstanding child support payments on his 2013 QNSP, i.e. that he hoped a court would recognize the error of making him pay his ex-wife for child support during the time he had custody, the Administrative Judge found that however well-grounded the individual thought his arguments to the court had been, at the time he completed his 2013 QNSP, his delinquent child support payments were still his obligation.

In the end, the Administrative Judge determined that the individual had not mitigated all the security concerns at issue in the proceeding.

Ann Augustyn - Administrative Judge