PSH-19-0056 - In the Matter of Personnel Security Hearing

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On January 30, 2020, an Administrative Judge determined that an Individual's access authorization under 10 C.F.R. Part 710 should not be restored. The Individual disclosed to the local security office (LSO) that she had been arrested and charged with Assault after an altercation with her boyfriend in which she became upset and threw household objects at him. In response to a letter of interrogatory from the LSO, the Individual estimated that she had consumed five or six drinks prior to the altercation and also admitted to consuming alcohol to intoxication one to three times each month. A DOE-contracted Psychiatrist (Psychiatrist) conducted a clinical interview (CI) of the Individual, during which she reported that she had not consumed alcohol for nearly four weeks prior to the CI. However, a Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) test recommended by the Psychiatrist provided strong evidence that the Individual significantly underreported her drinking. The Psychiatrist concluded that the Individual was a binge consumer of alcohol to the point of impaired judgement and that she met the diagnostic criteria for Other Specified Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorder (OSDICD) under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). The Psychiatrist recommended that the Individual address the concerns related to binge drinking by abstaining from or lightly consume alcohol for six months and document her reduced drinking with PEth tests, and to attend weekly anger management therapy for eight months to address the concerns related to her diagnosis with OSDICD. The Individual underwent court-ordered anger management therapy and voluntarily pursued counseling thereafter. The Individual also obtained monthly PEth tests for four months prior to the hearing, all of which were negative, and began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings just over one month prior to the hearing. At the hearing, the Individual testified that she had abstained from alcohol for less than five months, that she had resolved not to consume alcohol again in the future, and that her anger management therapy and counseling had taught her techniques to control her temper. A forensic psychologist (Psychologist) who evaluated the Individual prior to the hearing testified that he believed that the Individual had resolved her alcohol problem and was at low risk of relapse, and also that the Individual was improperly diagnosed with OSDICD. The Psychiatrist testified that the Individual’s efforts to address her drinking were too recent for him to conclude that she was not at risk of relapse into problematic drinking, and that the Psychologist’s conclusions regarding the diagnosis of OSDICD were unfounded. The Administrative Judge determined that the Individual’s anger management treatment and the passage of time without recurrence of incidents evidencing a loss of control were sufficient to mitigate the security concerns related to her diagnosis with OSDICD under Guideline I, but that the period of abstinence from alcohol demonstrated by the Individual’s PEth tests was insufficient for him to confidently find that the Individual was not at risk of relapse into problematic alcohol consumption, given her history of providing the LSO with unreliable information concerning her alcohol consumption. Therefore, the Administrative Judge concluded that the Individual had not mitigated the security concerns asserted by the LSO under Guideline G and that her access authorization should not be restored. OHA Case No. PSH-19-0056 (Steven L. Fine).