Background Investigations

Background Investigation Costs for FY 2018

Now that we are in the new fiscal year, the new billing rates for background investigations and various other checks conducted by the National Background Investigations Bureau have kicked in. According to Federal Investigative Notice (FIN) 17-04 issued last March, the costs for all five tiers of investigations and reinvestigations has increased slightly from last year. Shown below is a breakdown of the investigative costs and increases:

Standard Handling FY 2017 FY2018 Increase+
Tier 1 (Low Risk-no clearance) $176 $194 $18
Tier 2 (Moderate Risk-Public Trust) $1,515 $1,550 $35
Tier 2R $1,204 $1,261 $57
Tier 3 (Noncritical Sensitive-Secret) $421 $433 $12
Tier 3R $397 $417 $20
Tier 4 (High Risk-Public Trust) $4,051 $4,218 $167
Tier 4R $2,565 $2,646 $81
Tier 5 (Critical or Special Sensitive-Top Secret and/or SCI) $5,389 $5,596 $207
Tier 5R $2,951 $3,065 $114


The above numbers are only for standard handling. Priority handling is also available for T2, T2R, T4, T4R, T5 and T5R for an increased fee, but personally I don’t quite buy into the insinuated quicker processing time for completion based on past experience and taking into account the current backlog of over 700 cases. Additionally, many other extra coverage fees for special positions, specific agency missions, and expanded coverage triggers have increased in cost as well. As you may well imagine, the finance and accounting folks in each government agency get a case of “sticker shock” when the first month’s invoice for background investigations in the new fiscal year comes in at a higher than expected sum. Thankfully, they are smarter than me and are able to figure it all out!


  1. Mr Marko, do you figure that the cost is higher for agencies that conduct their own investigations rather than going through OPM?

  2. Could never grasp how a T3 is worth $500 when there is the potential to do much more work on it compared to a T2.

  3. No idea about how IC agencies calculate the cost of doing their own investigations, but I would surmise it is higher because of the level, depth and scope.