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Requesting Investigation Copies HR/Security Specialists

Pre-Placement Releases to Agencies

Designated agency officials can request copies of OPM conducted background investigations for use in making determinations concerning whether an individual is suitable or fit for Government employment; eligible for logical and physical access to federally controlled facilities and information systems; eligible to hold a sensitive position (including but not limited to eligibility for access to classified information); fit to perform work for or on behalf of the Government as a contractor employee; qualified for Government service; qualified to perform contractual services for the Government; and loyal to the United States. This is considered a pre-placement file release request.

To request a copy of a background investigation from OPM-FIS for pre-placement purposes agencies can:

  • Call FIS's Telephone Liaison at 724-794-5228 and provide the requested information to obtain the file
  • Submit a file request through agency on-line access through the Personnel Investigations Processing System (PIPS)
  • Fax a written request to 724-794-9861
  • Mail a written request to:
    Liaison Group
    OPM-FIS
    Attn: Telephone Liaisons
    PO Box 618
    1137 Branchton Road
    Boyers, PA 16018-0618

The following guidelines are used when determining whether to release a file in response to an agency’s request for pre-placement purposes:

  1. Investigative agencies (agencies that have delegated authority to conduct their own background investigations) will receive:
    • All investigations closed complete
    • Discontinued investigations - if no equal or higher level investigation completed subsequent to the discontinued investigation
    • All closed investigations that do not meet OPM standards with a notation that an update may be required
    • Limited information from a pending investigation upon specific request
  2. Non-investigative agencies will receive:
    • All investigations previously completed for that same agency, including investigations closed not meeting OPM standards
    • Investigations completed at the request of another agency if closed within the last two years
    • Investigations completed at the request of another agency closed more than two years ago if the person has been continuously Federally employed (no break in service)
    • If there is a break in service of two years or less, all completed investigations as long as at least one investigation was completed within the last three years
    • If there is a break in service of more than two years or no prior Federal service, all completed investigations as long as at least one investigation was completed within the last two years

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Administrative Due Process and Privacy Act Considerations

  • Agencies are responsible for ensuring the records used in making an adjudication are accurate, relevant, timely, and complete to the extent reasonably necessary to assure fairness to the individual in any determination.
  • Agencies are responsible for complying with all applicable administrative due process requirements, as provided by law, rule, or regulation, when taking an unfavorable action based on information in an OPM Report of Investigation.
  • Our investigative files may contain other agency reports; however approval should be obtained from the originating agency if the data in that report is needed to propose an adverse action.

When proposing adverse action, agencies may provide subjects with excerpts or summaries of the information contained in the OPM Report of Investigation, but not with a complete copy of the investigation itself. The agency may not release the following information:

  • Classified material such as Top Secret, Secret, Confidential, even if the Subject already has a clearance;
  • Information that would reveal the identity of a source granted confidentiality;
  • Sensitive or Restricted Medical information as denoted at 5 CFR 297.205;
  • Other agency information unless permission has been granted from the originating agency. This includes information originating with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or the National Security Agency (NSA) or even referencing these agencies.
  • Law Enforcement information containing specific restrictive language unless requested pursuant to section 9101 (b)(1) of title 5, U.S.C.;
  • Information concerning other persons (3rd party information);
  • OPM test material that includes reference to actual scoring, rating, or examining criteria;
  • Fingerprint Name Check Only results; National Crime Information Center (NCIC) checks; and Interstate Identification Index (Triple I) searches;
  • Information that would reveal FINCEN as the source of the information provided;
  • Information that is otherwise exempt from release by the Privacy Act.

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Agency's Requests to Obtain a Sanitized or Releasable Copy of an OPM Investigation

When a subject of an investigation is entitled to a copy of the materials relied upon and he/she has made such a request to the agency, in relation to the adjudicative process, then the OPM-FIS FOI/PA office can provide a sanitized copy of an OPM background investigation to the agency for release to the subject. The agency's request should be on letterhead and reference the investigation is needed for adjudicative purposes/procedures.

The request can be sent to the OPM-FIS FOI/PA office via one of the below methods:

  • Fax to: 724-794-4590
    (Advisement: this is not a secure fax)
  • Mail to:
    U.S. Office of Personnel Management
    Federal Investigative Services - FOI/PA office
    Attention: Supervisory FOI/PA Specialist
    PO Box 618
    1137 Branchton Road
    Boyers, PA 16018-0618
  • E-mail: FISFOIPARequests@opm.gov
    Advisement: The request may be submitted as a scanned attachment to an email. However, you should ensure that the security of your email system is adequate for transmitting sensitive information before choosing to transmit the request which contains personally identifiable information (full name, social security number, date of birth, etc.).

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Safeguarding and Handling Investigative Files

Dissemination of files within an agency

  • Investigative files furnished to an agency may be disseminated to authorized agency officials within that agency, as needed, to evaluate qualifications, suitability, fitness, credentialing for HSPD 12, and loyalty to the United States Government and/or a security clearance or access determination.
  • Agency security officers are responsible for deciding, in light of the information in the file, the extent of dissemination and appropriate controls of the file.
  • Investigative information should be handled in a manner that protects the privacy of individuals without compromising the capability of agency officials to make informed suitability and security determinations. The information upon which these decisions are based is highly personal and restricted to agency officials who have a need for it in performing their duties. However, there is no prohibition against sharing this information with agency management officials when necessary to accomplish the purpose for which the data was collected.

Physical Storage

When not in use, personnel investigations must be stored in a combination locked-cabinet or safe, or in an equally secure area. Access to the cases should be limited only to the Security Officer and approved staff, who shall not have access to their own files.

Retention of OPM-FIS Background Investigations

If an OPM-FIS conducted background investigation is contained within a security and/or adjudication file at the agency, then agencies are permitted to retain the investigation as long as they deem necessary but not to exceed OPM's published retention.

Published Retention Schedule for OPM Background Investigations
YearsInvestigations
25 Investigations containing "actionable" issues (e.g. loyalty, classified information, serious suitability/security issues, unfavorable adjudication and debarment by OPM)
16 All other Investigations

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Requests for Information Needed for Intelligence or Civil/Criminal Law Enforcement Activities

B(7) of the Privacy Act reads: No agency shall disclose any record which is contained in a system of records by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record pertains, unless disclosure of the record would be --- to another agency or to an instrumentality of any governmental jurisdiction within or under the control of the United States for a civil or criminal law enforcement activity if the activity is authorized by law, and if the head of the agency or instrumentality has made a written request to the agency which maintains the record specifying the particular portion desired and the law enforcement activity for which the record is sought

A written request on agency letterhead should be submitted by the agency head or the head of the instrumentality making the request (not the individual agent). If the request is made pursuant to B(7) of the Privacy Act, as defined above, then this should be noted in the request. The request letter must include:

  • Purpose of the request (i.e., the information is needed in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation)
  • All available subject identifiers

The request can be sent to OPM-FIS FOI/PA office via one of the below methods:

  • Fax to: 724-794-4590
    Advisement: this is not a secure fax
  • Mail to:
    U.S. Office of Personnel Management
    Federal Investigative Services - FOI/PA office
    Attention: Supervisory FOI/PA Specialist
    PO Box 618
    1137 Branchton Road
    Boyers, PA 16018-0618
  • E-mail: FISFOIPARequests@opm.gov
    Advisement: The request may be submitted as a scanned attachment to an email. However, you should ensure that the security of your email system is adequate for transmitting sensitive information before choosing to transmit the request which contains personally identifiable information (full name, social security number, date of birth, etc.).

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