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PSH-14-0021 - In the Matter of Personnel Security

On June 5, 2014, an OHA Administrative Judge issued a decision in which he concluded that an individual’s security clearance should not be restored.  The individual was originally granted access authorization following a favorable administrative review decision in 2004. Prior to the 2004 Hearing, the individual had been twice convicted of Boating Under the Influence of Alcohol and had been diagnosed by a DOE consulting psychiatrist as alcohol dependent. At the 2004 Hearing, the individual stated that he was continuing treatment and intended to maintain complete abstinence from alcohol in the future. Approximately one year later, the individual returned to consumption of alcohol in the belief that he could consume responsibly. Following disclosure of his renewed alcohol consumption during a periodic reinvestigation of his security clearance in 2013, the LSO referred him to a DOE consulting psychiatrist who diagnosed the individual as suffering from alcohol abuse and opined that the individual’s alcohol abuse causes, or may cause, a significant defect in his reliability and judgment. The LSO suspended the individual’s access authorization citing Criteria H and J. After some period of indecision, the individual returned to a church-based recovery group and began abstaining from alcohol three months prior to the 2014 Hearing. Much of the individual’s 2014 testimony paralleled his 2004 testimony, including with respect to his planning to obtain a sponsor and to participate in his recovery group’s separate 12-step class, neither of which he did following the 2004 Hearing. The individual was evaluated by a his own forensic psychiatrist one week prior to 2014 Hearing, who prepared a one-page report without any explicit analysis to support the conclusion that the individual no longer met the criteria for an alcohol use disorder since he had become abstinent in February; the forensic psychiatrist was not presented as a witness at the hearing. At the hearing, the DOE psychiatrist testified as to his recommendation that, to evidence adequate reformation or rehabilitation, the individual would need to, inter alia, complete a structure alcohol treatment program, in conjunction with participation in recovery group, and 18 months of complete abstinence (or longer if he did not completed a structured treatment program). (This reflects an increase in the psychiatrist’s recommended length of abstinence from his original evaluation, which increase resulted from testimony the psychiatrist heard during the 2014 Hearing.) The Administrative Judge, noting weaknesses in the forensic report, gave it limited weight and held that three months of abstinence and participation in a recovery group (with no participation in a structured treatment program) did not constitute adequate rehabilitation or reformation of the individual’s alcohol abuse. Therefore, the individual had not mitigated the security concerns arising under Criterion J and H.

Wade Boswell - Administrative Judge