Click here to skip navigation
An official website of the United States Government.

Background Investigations Reference Materials



The background investigation process may have started with the Civil Service Commission and the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, but since then numerous background investigation rules and regulations have been created making the background investigation process more effective… and much more complex. Here's a collection of some of the most commonly used background investigation references and materials.

  • Requesting OPM Personnel Investigations (INV 15) – This document is intended to assist federal agencies in requesting OPM background investigations. It provides information to familiarize agency human resource and security officials with OPM/FIS and the products and services offered.
  • Investigative Forms – PDF versions of the Standard Forms in electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) (For reference only. OPM does not accept hardcopy Standard Forms.)
  • OPM Access Forms – An agency's contact and communication with OPM must be properly managed. Use these forms to establish the investigation submission process with OPM or manage your existing relationship.
  • Executive Orders – Relevant Executive Orders (E.O.) that made the background investigations process what it is today.
  • HSPD-12 – Relevant Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 references concerning the policy for Government-wide use of personal identity identification (PIV) cards.
  • OPM-FIS Annual Reports – OPM-FIS produces an annual report to increase transparency to its customers.

Investigations Forms

Before an investigation can be initiated, you will be asked to complete a questionnaire and provide information about your background. The type of questionnaire you will be asked to complete will depend on the type of investigation needed for the position. For example, if the position requires a security clearance, you will be asked to complete the Standard Form 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions. Links to these questionnaires used in the investigation process are provided on this page. 

In most instances, you will be asked to complete an electronic version of the form on OPM's Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) system. To help expedite the process and to ensure the completeness and accuracy of your responses, you may find it helpful to prepare your answers in advance. The information you provide on the questionnaire will be used to direct the investigation. For that reason, complete names and addresses, including house numbers and zip codes, are important. Keep in mind that incomplete or incorrect information will not only delay the investigation, but could result in an adverse action being taken against you.

If you have any questions about how to complete the questionnaire, please contact the agency's Human Resources or Personnel Security office that asked you to complete the form.

OPM Access Forms

Commonly used access forms for OPM systems:

  • INV 70B - REQUEST FOR PIPS/CVS User ID/Access - Use this form to request access to OPM's Personnel Investigations Processing System (PIPS) and Central Verification System (CVS). If you need to request access to CVS in order to upload batch files of clearance or credentialing information, please log in to the OPMIS Secure Portal, click the "CVS Batch File Submission" button and fill in text box with required information.
  • PIPS 11 - SECURITY OFFICE IDENTIFIER (SOI) AUTHORIZATION AND AMENDMENT FORM - Use this form to update the authorized contacts listed on an SOI, to update contact information for an SOI, or request a new SOI.
  • PIPS 12 - SUBMITTING OFFICE NUMBER (SON) AUTHORIZATION AND AMENDMENT FORM - Use this form to update the authorized contacts listed on an SON, to update contact information for an SON, or request a new SON.

Executive Orders

Annual Reports for OPM Federal Investigative Services (FIS)

OPM FIS conducts background investigations for use in determining if people meet the suitability or fitness requirements for employment, or are eligible for access to Federal facilities, automated systems, or classified information. OPM FIS is the primary investigation service provider for the Federal Government. As part of OPM FIS commitment to transparency and in support of OPM FIS' response to the Government Accountability Office's recommendations in GAO-12-197, Background Investigations, Office of Personnel Management needs to Improve Transparency of Its Pricing and Seek Cost Savings, February 28, 2012, FIS pledged to produce an annual report.

The FIS Annual Report gives an overview of FIS structure and operations and most importantly, provides fiscal transparency for our customers and stakeholders.

Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12

Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) establishes policy for a common identification standard for Federal employees and contractors and subsequently directed the Government-wide use of personal identity identification (PIV) cards. On June 30, 2008, in Executive Order 13467, “Reforming Processes Related to Suitability for Government Employment, Fitness for Contractor Employees, and Eligibility for Access to Classified National Security Information”, the President directed the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to “continue to be responsible for developing and implementing uniform and consistent policies and procedures to ensure the effective, efficient and timely completion of investigations and adjudications relating to…eligibility for logical and physical access.” In order to assist agencies with credentialing determinations, OPM has published the following memorandums and Federal Investigations Notices identified below.

DateDocument TypePolicy
1/14/2008 Memorandum Decision Making Guide: Introduction of Credentialing, Suitability, and Security Clearance Decision-Making Guide
7/31/2008 Memorandum Final Credentialing Standards for Issuing Personal Identity Verification Cards Under HSPD-12
5/17/2010 Federal Investigations Notice (FIN) FIN 10-05: Reminder to Agencies of the Standards for Issuing Identity Credentials Under HSPD-12
3/3/2011 Federal Investigations Notice (FIN) FIN 11-02: New Data File for the Central Verification System (CVS)
Control Panel