A Breakdown of the Tier 3 Background Investigation
So you applied for and were offered a job that requires you to get a Secret security clearance. What does that mean? What checks are run, how far back do they go and who will they contact? Some details are not releasable for public consumption, but the below information is available through various medians and is a general overview.
Here is what the Tier 3 (formerly known as the NACLC) covers for those applying for a security clearance:
- National Agency Check (NAC) – this check is a part of all background investigations and queries OPM’s Suitability/Security Index (SII) and DoD’s Defense Central Index of Investigations (DCII) files for any previous investigations. The NAC also consists of a review of FBI fingerprint/criminal history or involvement in FBI investigations, and any other federal agency checks that may be required depending on the applicant’s position.
- For males, selective service registration is checked. For all, military service records are checked for those who indicate any military service.
- Checks of employment history within scope verifying dates of employment, whether there were any issues, the circumstances of leaving, and eligibility for rehire.
- Checks of residence history within scope for any known issues, payment history, and if you are in or left in good standing.
- Checks of all educational institutes that you attended within scope or the most recent verifying dates of attendance, degrees earned, and any disciplinary actions.
- Checks of local law enforcement agencies for every place you lived, worked, or went to school within scope to see if you were cited, charged, arrested, or convicted for any traffic or criminal offense.
- A credit check is run and reviewed for financial history regarding collections, charge-offs, excessive debt to income ratio, liens, bankruptcies and civil court judgments. Also noted are names, social security numbers, and addresses used for creditors.
- Certain special positions may require additional coverage/questions (e.g., law enforcement positions).
- A triggered enhanced subject interview (TESI) may be necessary when issues or discrepancies from the other checks are present and need further information or clarification.
This is not an all-inclusive list as additional coverage may be required based on the information provided on the SF-86 (e.g., citizenship, overseas coverage, court records), but is close to what the standard checks are for most applicants.