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Frequently Asked Questions Investigations

  • The time needed to complete the application process depends on a number of factors, including whether a background investigation is needed prior to appointment and the type of investigation to be conducted.  For national security positions, OPM is completing 90 percent of the initial security clearance investigations within an average of 40 days.  To determine the status of your investigation, you may call 724-794-5612, extension 7000.  For information on the status of your application, please contact the office where you applied.    
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  • After your data has passed validation you should click on the "Display" link in the upper left hand corner of the screen to verify your data and to ensure that your answers are complete and accurate to the best of your knowledge. Then select "Validate, Certify, and Release" from the Navigation Bar in the top right-hand side of the screen and follow the additional instructions. After certifying your data, you will not be able to edit your form.
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  • The interests of national security require that all persons privileged to be employed in the departments and agencies of the government shall be reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and of complete and unswerving loyalty to the United States. This means that the appointment of each civilian employee in any department or agency of the government is subject to investigation. The scope of the investigation will vary, depending on the nature of the position and the degree of harm that an individual in that position could cause. The requirement to be investigated applies whether or not the position requires a security clearance (in order to have access to classified national security information).
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  • The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Defense, and a few other agencies share this responsibility. The FBI mostly conducts investigations on the following:  High level Presidential appointees, cabinet officers, agency heads and staff who may work at the White House directly for the President.
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  • The Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Federal Investigative Services (FIS) conducts background investigations on Federal applicants, employees, and contractor personnel for suitability and security determination purposes at the request of our customer agencies.  A credit search is a routine part of many of these investigations. The subjects of background investigations are requested to sign a release form allowing a check of his or her credit history.  Searches are conducted for each name variation a person has used; therefore, there may be more than one search by OPM showing on a person’s credit report.  Credit inquiries from OPM investigations are included in the Regular Inquiries portion of a credit record, but these inquiries are “soft” hits and do not have an impact on a person’s credit score.  
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  • Questions about an agency’s action or whether that action is required to be reported on an investigative form should be referred to the agency that took the action.  In the context of the question on the Standard Form (SF) 86, a debarment refers to a suitability action that denies an individual  examination for, or appointment to, a covered position.  A covered position, as defined in title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, part 731 is one in the competitive service or one in the excepted service where the incumbent can be non-competitively converted to the competitive service, or a career appointment to a position in the Senior Executive Service.   
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  • The RSI is not a background or criminal investigation. RSIs are focused investigations to obtain information to resolve issues developed about an individual. An agency may request an RSI when it needs additional investigation to resolve issues that might fall outside the normal scope of another investigation (such as alcohol or drug rehabilitation or credit); to establish a history or pattern of behavior; or to obtain other information related to suitability or security which is not necessarily connected to a current background investigation. The cost of the RSI varies depending on the work to be performed; expedited service is available at an additional cost. A representative of OPM-FIS will contact the agency prior to scheduling the investigation to provide a cost estimate. To initiate an RSI, the agency needs only to submit a letter or memo to OPM-FIS Customer Interface. Customer Interface processes agency requests to reopen investigations and conduct a Reimbursable Suitability Investigation (RSI). Agencies may submit their requests via fax (724) 738-0178, or mail: OPM-FIPC Customer Interface PO BOX 618 1137 Branchton Rd. Boyers, PA 16018-0618 If you have a question about a reopen or RSI, please call the Telephone Liaisons at (724) 794-5228. Reopen or RSI requests must be typed on agency letterhead and contain the following:
    • Security Office Identifier (SOI)
    • Submitting Office Number (SON)
    • Interagency Payment and Collection Code (IPAC)
    • Subject's current location and phone number
    • Clear description of the work being requested in the reopen or RSI
    • Name, phone number, and email address of the individual submitting the request
    For more information about RSIs, see the Federal Investigation Notices, Letter No. 97-2, dated July 29, 1997, and Letter No. 93-4, dated June 14, 1993; or, call SAST (724) 794-5612, extension 4600.
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  • The Office of Personnel Management has no procedure for an individual to independently apply for an investigation, positions maintained by contractor, or security clearance. Clearances are based on investigations requested by Federal agencies, appropriate to specific positions and their duties. Until a person is offered such a position, the government will not request or pay for an investigation for a clearance. Once a person has been offered a job (contingent upon satisfactory completion of an investigation), the government will require the person to complete a Standard Form 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions, initiate the investigation, adjudicate the results, and issue the appropriate clearance. We know that some Defense Department contractors require applicants to already have a clearance, and they have the right to administer their personnel hiring procedures the way they want as long as they don't discriminate based on prohibited factors (such as race or religion). Persons who already have clearances are those who are already employed by a government contractor (or by the government itself) and are looking for other job opportunities.
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  • A "Warning" message alerts you to a potential problem with your data which may require additional explanation. An "Error" must be corrected prior to certifying your completed form.
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  • We talk to as many knowledgeable people as possible to get a balanced, accurate, and comprehensive picture of the person being investigated. Later, you may have an opportunity to refute any misleading or false information that was reported about you.
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