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Background Investigations Cooperation in Investigations

 

Verification of Special Agents/ Contract Investigators

How do I know if a Special Agent or contract Investigator is working for FIS?

OPM’s Federal and contractor investigators carry credentials that identify them as representatives of OPM. Investigators show their credentials before requesting information. Note that investigator’s credentials may not be photocopied under penalty of law (18 USC 701).

Federally-employed FIS Special Agents and contract Investigators working on behalf of FIS conduct the investigations. FIS contracts with a number of experienced companies to perform background investigation services. As authorized agents of FIS, contract Investigators have the same scope of authority as FIS Special Agents. Special Agents and contract Investigators undergo rigorous investigations training and are held to the same high standards of conduct and professionalism.

Further questions related to an Agent’s/Investigator’s identity or status should be directed to FIS Safety and Security Team at 1-888- 795-5673 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday; email inquiry may be sent to FISSST@opm.gov.

Each background investigation conducted by FIS, or contractor on behalf of FIS, is accomplished with the full knowledge and consent of the subject of the investigation. For more information concerning this investigative process, please see the webpage that corresponds to your association with the individual you were contacted about:

Employer/Business Cooperation in Federal Background Investigations

Why did I receive a written request for employment verification?

For some types of investigations, a written request is the primary means of gathering information about a person’s character, conduct and employment history. In these cases, FIS may send a written inquiry (INV 41, Investigative Request for Employment Data and Supervisor Information) to the employer in order to verify the subject’s employment history, and gather relevant character and conduct information. For other types of investigation FIS must send an Investigator to personally obtain this information. Your complete and timely response to a written request is just as important as your complete and timely response to Investigators who arrive in person. In all cases your cooperation helps to ensure the Government is able to fill critical positions without delay.

What is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and why does it conduct background investigations?

OPM is home to the Federal Government’s human resources experts, consultants and advisors. The OPM Director serves as the chief advisor to the President on Federal human resources issues and is the Suitability Executive Agent for the Federal Government. Our Mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to serve the American People. Within OPM is the Federal Investigative Services (FIS), whose international network of Special Agents and contract Investigators conduct background investigations on members of the U.S. Military, current Federal employees, applicants for Federal positions and employees of Federal agency contractors. In today’s complex and often dangerous geo-political environment, few organizations have a more important role than OPM’s FIS. FIS actively serves more than 100 Federal agencies, ranging from the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense, charged with protecting America, its citizens and vital national interests; to the Department of Health and Human Services and Environmental Protection Agency, where employees research cures for disease and develop remedies for a cleaner planet. Agencies use FIS investigations to determine whether individuals meet the suitability and/or fitness requirements for employment or continued employment, are eligible to hold a sensitive position, or are eligible for access to Federal facilities, automated systems or classified information.

What authorizes FIS to conduct background investigations?

FIS derives its authority to conduct background investigations on current and newly hired employees and applicants for employment from Executive Orders, laws, statutes and Federal regulations including, but not limited to, the following:

Executive Order 10450 gives FIS primary responsibility to conduct background investigations for the competitive civil service, and authorizes Federal agencies to retain our services for investigating for other positions. It also establishes the requirement that an investigation for Federal employment must include inquiries to former employers, supervisors, and references. Each investigation leads to a decision at the employing agency on whether the action to hire an individual or continue his or her employment is consistent with the interests of national security.

In accordance with section 3301 of title 5, United States Code, Executive Orders 10577 and 13488, and part 731 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, FIS is responsible for investigating qualifications and suitability for employment in the competitive service, including public trust positions.

Under Public Law 108-136, FIS conducts background investigations for the Department of Defense, including for service in the Armed Forces; and under 50 U.S.C. 435b, OPM conducts Government security clearance investigations generally.

Executive Order 12968 provides the parameters for FIS, as an authorized investigative agency, to conduct investigations of individuals whose jobs will require them to have access to classified information.

Our subjects sign a release giving us the authority to obtain information, to include employment records.

Who conducts the background investigations?

Federally-employed FIS Special Agents and contract Investigators working on behalf of FIS conduct the investigations. FIS contracts with a number of experienced companies to perform background investigation services. As authorized agents of FIS, contract Investigators have the same scope of authority as FIS Special Agents. Special Agents and contract Investigators undergo rigorous investigations training and are held to the same high standards of conduct and professionalism.

Each background investigation conducted by FIS, or contractor on behalf of FIS, is accomplished with the full knowledge and consent of the subject of the investigation.

How do we know if Special Agents/contract Investigators work for FIS?

FIS Special Agents and contract Investigators carry credentials identifying them as representatives of FIS. They will present their credentials upon introduction. Further questions related to an Agent’s/Investigator’s identity or status should be directed to FIS Safety and Security Team at 1-888- 795-5673 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday; email inquiry may be sent to FISSST@opm.gov.

May we photocopy the credentials of Special Agents/Investigators?

No, credentials may not be photocopied under penalty of law (18 USC 701).

What does a background investigation cover?

The scope of an investigation varies depending on the nature of the position the subject will encumber, the type of clearance required for the position and/or the degree of harm an individual holding the position could potentially do.

Investigations usually cover the past 5 to 10 years of the subject of investigation’s background and generally include interviews with the subject and the subject’s neighbors, employers, officials at schools the subject attended and references. They also include record checks with local police departments in the areas where the subject has lived, worked or attended school. Fingerprints are sent to the FBI for possible match against the Bureau’s criminal history files. A credit history and military service record also may be reviewed.

How does FIS determine which employers to contact?

FIS covers periods of employment that occurred during the scope of the investigation (generally 5 to 10 years). The employment periods may be offered by the subject of investigation or developed during the course of the investigation. The subject may no longer be employed with your company or agency, but verification is still necessary to provide a complete history of the subject’s employment record.

What type of employment information is FIS requesting?

When a written request is sent, we ask for verification of the information provided on the front of the form, claimed employment dates, position, name of supervisor, and any adverse information relevant to the subject of investigation. If an Investigator visits you, he or she will seek verification of the same information shown in the written request including subject’s dates of employment, as well as performance or conduct issues and disciplinary actions taken. In addition, the Investigator will ask about the subject’s reason for leaving, re-hire eligibility, and if terminated, specific circumstances of the departure and how the subject was notified. Investigators also may need to interview current or previous co-workers to obtain a comprehensive, substantive overview of the subject’s employment activities. In all cases, in addition to requesting this information, the investigation is seeking to identify any issues that might be related to potential suitability or that would compromise national security.

May I request a release signed by the subject authorizing me to provide the information?

Yes. If you receive a written request, you may ask for a copy of the subject’s signed Authorization for Release of Information by indicating this on the written request or by contacting FIS directly at 724-794-5612. If an Investigator contacts you, you may request a copy of the Authorization for Release of Information directly from the Investigator. Note that the release may be digitally (electronically) signed. Releases that are digitally signed are as valid as those with handwritten signatures (Public Law 105-277, Title XVII).

Who can I contact with questions or concerns?

You may contact OPM’s Federal Investigative Services, Records Access and Liaison at 724-794-5612.

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Educational Institution Cooperation in Federal Background Investigations

Why did I receive a written request for education verification?

For some types of investigations, a written request is the primary means of gathering information. In these cases, FIS may send a written inquiry (INV 43, Investigative Request for Employment Data and Supervisor Information) to the educational institutions in order to verify the subject’s scholastic record. For other types of investigation, FIS must send an Investigator to personally obtain this information from the institution. Your complete and timely response to a written request is just as important as your complete and timely response to Investigators who arrive in person. In all cases, your cooperation helps to ensure the Government is able to fill critical positions without delay.

What is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and why does it conduct background investigations?

OPM is home to the Federal Government’s human resources experts, consultants and advisors. The OPM Director serves as the chief advisor to the President on Federal human resources issues and is the Suitability Executive Agent for the Federal Government.

Our Mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to serve the American People.

Within OPM is the Federal Investigative Services (FIS), whose international network of Special Agents and contract Investigators conduct background investigations on members of the US Military, current Federal employees, applicants for Federal positions and employees of Federal agency contractors.

In today’s complex and often dangerous geo-political environment, few organizations have a more important role than OPM’s FIS.

FIS actively serves more than 100 Federal agencies, ranging from the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense, charged with protecting America, its citizens and vital national interests; to the Department of Health and Human Services and Environmental Protection Agency, where employees research cures for disease and develop remedies for a cleaner planet. Agencies use FIS investigations to determine whether individuals meet the suitability and/or fitness requirements for employment or continued employment, are eligible to hold a sensitive position, or are eligible for access to Federal facilities, automated systems or classified information. 

What authorizes FIS to conduct background investigations?

FIS derives its authority to conduct background investigations on current and newly hired employees and applicants for employment from Executive Orders, laws, statutes and Federal regulations including, but not limited to the following:

Executive Order 10450 gives FIS primary responsibility to conduct background investigations for the competitive civil service, and authorizes Federal agencies to retain our services for investigating for other positions. It also establishes the requirement that an investigation for Federal employment must include a check of the records of schools attended. Each investigation leads to a decision at the employing agency on whether the action to hire an individual or continue his or her employment is consistent with the interests of national security.

In accordance with section 3301 of title 5, United States Code, Executive Orders 10577 and 13488, and part 731 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, FIS is responsible for investigating qualifications and suitability for employment in the competitive service, including public trust positions.

Under Public Law 108-136, FIS conducts background investigations for the Department of Defense, including for service in the Armed Forces; and under 50 USC 435b, OPM conducts Government security clearance investigations generally.

Executive Order 12968 provides the parameters for FIS, as an authorized investigative agency, to conduct investigations of individuals whose jobs will require them to have access to classified information.

Our subjects sign a release giving us the authority to obtain information, to include education records.

Who conducts the background investigations?

Federally-employed FIS Special Agents and contract Investigators working on behalf of FIS conduct the investigations. FIS contracts with a number of experienced companies to perform background investigation services. As authorized agents of FIS, contract Investigators have the same scope of authority as FIS Special Agents. Special Agents and contract Investigators undergo rigorous investigations training and are held to the same high standards of conduct and professionalism.

Each background investigation conducted by FIS, or contractor on behalf of FIS, is accomplished with the full knowledge and consent of the subject of the investigation.

How do we know if Special Agents/contract Investigators work for FIS?

FIS Special Agents and contract Investigators carry credentials identifying them as representatives of FIS. They will present their credentials upon introduction. Further questions related to an Agent’s/Investigator’s identity or status should be directed to FIS Safety and Security Team at 1-888-795-5673 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday; email inquiry may be sent to FISSST@opm.gov.

May we photocopy the credentials of Special Agents/Investigators?

No, credentials may not be photocopied under penalty of law (18 USC 701).

What does a background investigation cover?

The scope of an investigation varies depending on the nature of the position the subject will encumber, the type of clearance required for the position and/or the degree of harm an individual holding the position could potentially do.

Investigations usually cover the past 5 to 10 years of the subject of investigation’s background and generally include interviews with the subject, the subject’s neighbors, employers, officials at schools the subject attended and references. They also include record checks with the local police departments in the areas where the subject has lived, worked or attended school. Fingerprints are sent to the FBI for possible match against the Bureau’s criminal history files. A credit history and military service record also may be reviewed.

How does FIS determine which colleges and universities to contact?

FIS contacts the educational institutions where the subject attended and/or earned a degree(s).

Why is education verified in a background investigation?

There are a number of positions that require a certain level of education to qualify for appointment or pay grade.  In addition, claims of education may potentially allow an applicant to gain a hiring process advantage over other applicants without claims of education even when the education is not required. Therefore, it is essential that claimed attendance and degrees from education institutes are verified. Finally, adverse information related to the applicant’s period in school may be relevant to the purpose for which OPM is conducting the investigation, such as a determination of his or her eligibility for a security clearance.

What type of education information is FIS requesting?

When a written request is sent, we ask for verification of the information provided on the front of the form, dates of attendance, type of degree earned and degree date, last claimed residence, and any adverse information relevant to the subject of investigation. If an Investigator visits you, he or she will seek verification of the same information shown on the written request, as well as the subject’s major area of study, whether the subject was a full- or part-time student, other schools attended (including high school) and disciplinary actions.

May I request a release signed by the subject authorizing me to provide the information?

Yes. If you receive a written request, you may ask for a copy of the subject’s signed Authorization for Release of Information by indicating this on the written request or by contacting FIS directly at 724-794-5612. If an Investigator contacts you, you may request a copy of the Authorization for Release of Information directly from the Investigator. Note that the release may be digitally (electronically) signed. Releases that are digitally signed are as valid as those with handwritten signatures (Public Law 105-277, Title XVII).

Our school uses an education verification service. Can you send the verification request directly to the service?

FIS has full access to records maintained by the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), and we use this access when required by the educational institution.

However, we ask that the school NOT forward the written request to NSC, as this delays FIS’ responsiveness. All such requests should be returned to FIS with instructions to contact the NSC for records. Our Investigators have procedures for obtaining NSC information; please notify our Investigators, as well, when NSC verification is required.

NSC currently is the only educational verification service we use. If you use another verification service, please forward our written request to that service for processing.

Who can I contact with questions or concerns?

You may contact OPM’s Federal Investigative Services, Records Access and Liaison at 724-794-5612.

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Law Enforcement Agencies

Why do we receive written requests for criminal record information?

For some types of investigations, the written inquiries (INV 44, Investigative Request for Law Enforcement Data) are the primary means of gathering information about a person’s character and conduct. This information is relied upon to make a determination regarding a person’s suitability or fitness for employment. Your timely response helps to ensure the Government is able to place persons in critical positions without delay. Further, it will assist FIS in meeting the timeliness requirements mandated by Congress.

What is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and why does it conduct background investigations?

OPM is home to the Federal Government’s human resources experts, consultants and advisors. The OPM Director serves as the chief advisor to the President on Federal human resources issues and is the Suitability Executive Agent for the Federal Government.

Our Mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to serve the American People.

Within OPM is the Federal Investigative Services (FIS), whose international network of Special Agents and contract Investigators conduct background investigations on members of the U.S. Military, current Federal employees, applicants for Federal positions and employees of Federal agency contractors.

In today’s complex and often dangerous geo-political environment, few organizations have a more important role than OPM’s FIS.

FIS actively serves more than 100 Federal agencies, ranging from the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense, charged with protecting America, its citizens and vital national interests; to the Department of Health and Human Services and Environmental Protection Agency, where employees research cures for disease and develop remedies for a cleaner planet. Agencies use FIS investigations to determine whether individuals meet the suitability and/or fitness requirements for employment, or continued employment, are eligible to hold a sensitive position, or are eligible for access to Federal facilities, automated systems or classified information.

What authorizes FIS to conduct background investigations??

FIS derives its authority to conduct background investigations on current and newly hired employees and applicants for employment from Executive Orders, laws, statutes and Federal regulations including, but not limited to the following:

Public Law 99-169, Chapter 10-13-03, the Security Clearance Information Act (SCIA), authorizes FIS to receive criminal history record information on individuals whose positions require them to have access to classified information or be eligible for assignment to or retention in sensitive national security roles.

Pursuant to 5 USC Chapter 91, section 9101, FIS is entitled to access full and complete criminal history record information from criminal justice agencies during a background investigation for a security clearance, for eligibility for employment in a sensitive position, for employment suitability, or for military service. FIS is entitled to receive identifiable descriptions and notations of arrests, indictments, information, or other formal criminal charges; disposition information; information on sentencing, correction supervision, and release; and sealed records to which state and local criminal justice agencies have access under state law.

Executive Order 10450 gives FIS primary responsibility to conduct background investigations for the competitive civil service, and authorizes Federal agencies to retain our services for investigating for other positions. It also establishes the requirement that an investigation for Federal employment must include an FBI fingerprint check and inquiries to local law enforcement agencies.  Each investigation leads to a decision at the employing agency on whether the action to hire an individual or continue his or her employment is consistent with the interests of national security.

In accordance with section 3301 of title 5, United States Code, Executive Orders 10577 and 13488, and part 731 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, FIS is responsible for investigating qualifications and suitability for employment in the competitive service, including public trust positions.

Under Public Law 108-136, FIS conducts background investigations for the Department of Defense, including for service in the Armed Forces; and under 50 USC 435b, OPM conducts Government security clearance investigations generally.

Executive Order 12968 provides the parameters for FIS, as an authorized investigative agency, to conduct investigations of individuals whose jobs will require them to have access to classified information.

Who conducts the background investigations?

Federally-employed FIS Special Agents and contract Investigators working on behalf of FIS conduct the investigations. FIS contracts with a number of experienced companies to perform background investigation services. As authorized agents of FIS, contract Investigators have the same scope of authority as FIS Special Agents, including the authority to obtain criminal history record information from law enforcement agencies. Special Agents and contract Investigators undergo rigorous investigations training and are held to the same high standards of conduct and professionalism.

Each background investigation conducted by FIS, or contractor on behalf of FIS, is accomplished with the full knowledge and consent of the subject of the investigation.

How do we know if Special Agents/contract Investigators work for FIS?

FIS Special Agents and contract Investigators carry credentials identifying them as representatives of FIS. They will present their credentials upon introduction. Further questions related to an Agent’s/Investigator’s identity or status should be directed to FIS Security and Safety Team at 1-888-795-5673 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday; email inquiry may be sent to FISSST@opm.gov.

May we photocopy the credentials of Special Agents/Investigators?

No, credentials may not be photocopied under penalty of law. (18 USC 701)

What does a background investigation cover?

The scope of an investigation varies depending on the nature of the position, the type of clearance required for someone to occupy the position and/or the degree of harm an individual holding the job could potentially do.

By law and Executive Order, OPM investigations include a check of records with local police departments in locations at which the subject has or had personal and/or professional connections. The subject’s fingerprint charts are sent to the FBI for possible match against the Bureau’s criminal history files.

In addition, investigations generally include interviews with the subject of the investigation, the subject’s neighbors, the subject’s employers, officials at schools the subject attended and references. A credit history and record of military service also may be reviewed as well as other federal records.

How does FIS determine which law enforcement authorities to contact?

Investigators contact local law enforcement authorities in the states, cities and towns where the subject of the investigation lived, worked and attended school; and/or in locations where the subject has admitted to violations of law during the scope of the investigation (usually a 5- to 10-year period). While the subject may no longer have ties to a  locality, the investigative work is necessary to identify any possible unadmitted/unreported criminal activity by the subject and to obtain a complete history of subject’s activities.

What type of information will the Investigator request or need to access?

The Investigator will want to know if the subject of the investigation has a criminal history record with your department. A criminal history record includes felonies, misdemeanors, traffic offenses or other violations of law that may or may not have resulted in a conviction. The Investigator will request pertinent information about each offense, including the date/place of the offense, statement of the actual charge, circumstances in the offense, and its disposition. In addition, the Investigator may ask for a copy of the police report. Please note that the alleged or suspected criminal activity is pertinent whether or not it led to an arrest or conviction.

May we request a release signed by the subject authorizing us to provide the information?

Yes, the Investigator will provide a copy of the Authorization for Release of Information if requested. Note that the release may be digitally (electronically) signed. Releases that are digitally signed are as valid as those with handwritten signatures (Public Law 105-277, Title XVII).

Who can I contact with questions or concerns?

You can reach a member of OPM’s Federal Investigative Services, Law Enforcement Liaison Team at 724-794-5612 or FISLEO@opm.gov.

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