PSH-20-0046 - In the Matter of Personnel Security Hearing

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On July 21, 2020, an Administrative Judge determined that an Individual's access authorization under 10 C.F.R. Part 710 should not be restored. The Individual submitted a Questionnaire for National Security Positions (QNSP) in which he denied that he had ever been delinquent on routine financial accounts. A background investigation by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) revealed numerous debts on which the Individual was delinquent, including a debt in excess of $20,000 on a repossessed automobile. An OPM investigator interviewed the Individual and prepared a report in which he wrote that the Individual claimed to have resolved some of his debts and to have established a payment plan to satisfy the automobile debt. The local security office (LSO) subsequently sent the Individual a letter of interrogatory (LOI) requesting an explanation for the omissions on the QNSP and updated information concerning the Individual's financial position. The Individual indicated in his response to the LOI that the omission of his financial delinquencies from the QNSP was an "honest mistake," that he intended to repay the automobile debt, and that he had agreed to a payment plan for the automobile debt.

However, after repeated requests by the LSO for a copy of the payment plan, the Individual admitted that there was no payment plan and that his counsel had advised him not to repay the automobile debt as the statute of limitations on the debt would soon expire.

 

At the hearing, the Individual testified that he believed that he was only required to disclose debts on the QNSP that he incurred between the expiration of his prior security clearance and the date he completed the QNSP, and that the OPM investigator misunderstood his statements that he could enter into a payment plan for the automobile debt to mean that he had already agreed to a payment plan. The Individual also provided evidence that he had resolved all of his debts except for the automobile debt, which the Individuals counsel had advised him not to pay, and an apartment debt which the Individual represented was his mother’s and which he was challenging. The Administrative Judge determined that the Individual had significantly improved his financial position and demonstrated financial responsibility for several years prior to the hearing. Therefore, the Administrative Judge determined that the Individual had resolved the security concerns under Guideline F. However, the Administrative Judge determined that the Individual had not sought to correct the omissions concerning his financial delinquencies until confronted with evidence of the delinquencies, and that his explanations for the misleading information he provided during the investigative process were illogical. Therefore, the Administrative Judge concluded that the Individual had not mitigated the security concerns asserted by the LSO under Guideline E and that his access authorization should not be restored. OHA Case No. PSH-20-0046 (Steven L. Fine).