Background InvestigationsSecurity Clearance Process

Deciphering Background Investigation Codes

You were hired on for that dream job, flew through the background investigation process (well, maybe not really, but one can hope), and were granted a security clearance. What should you do now? I always recommend you request a copy of your own closed background investigation to keep for future reference. The Report of Investigation (ROI) can also give insight as to what checks were done and who was contacted during the course of the investigation. When you finally obtain a copy of the closed ROI the cover sheet will list all the checks that were scheduled. I developed the below chart using open source information that is publicly accessible to help you figure out what all the various items mean. Although not all-inclusive, these are the ones you would most likely see on your ROI:

 Code Explanation
CIAS CIA Security check conducted when any of the following are true about the subject: a) foreign born; b) outside the U.S. for 90 days or more (other than for U.S. military service); c) outside the U.S. in excess of one year if on U.S. Government assignment; d) resided or traveled in certain countries identified by the requesting agency; or e) if marriage occurs during any of the above activities.
CRED Credit search of the National Credit Bureaus (must be within one year of investigation closing date).
DCIIF Defense Clearance and Investigations Index File- check of Defense Security Service records for previous background investigations.
EDUC Verification of claimed education (within scope of investigation).
EMPL Verification of employment (6 months or more and within scope of investigation). Note- overseas employment is only checked if currently employed there.
FBIF/FBFN FBI fingerprint classification check for criminal history. A name check is run if fingerprints are unclassifiable.
FINCEN Financial Crimes Enforcement Network check.
FMR SPOUSE Personal testimonies of all former spouses within last 10 years or from last investigation
INS Check of USCIC Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database to confirm legal residency status for non-U.S. citizens.
LAWE/LAC Law enforcement/local agency check of where subject worked, lived, and went to school (within scope of investigation).
MEDI Mental health treatment records review and provider recommendation
MILR Check of military service records for adverse information and type of discharge.
OUTS Foreign country law check through Interpol – conducted if there is: a) Military service overseas (excluding Canada) for 90 days continuously or a combined six months or more in the last 5 years, orb) Foreign Residence, Education, or Employment for 90 days continuously or a combined six months or more in the last 5 years.
PUBR Check of criminal or civil court records for any cases involving the subject as a defendant
REFE Personal testimonies from people who know or have had significant contact with the subject (all source when put together must cover the past 5 years).
RESI Verification of residence (6 months or more) within scope of investigation.
SESE Selective Service registration status check for all males born after 12/31/1959 and if they are currently 18 years or older.
SIIF Security/Suitability Investigations Index File- check of OPM’s database for previous investigations within the last 16 years.
SPIN Special interview with the subject conducted by an investigator to address specific issues and obtain additional information.
STSC State Department security check when SCI access is requested and activities outside the U.S. exceed one year while on U.S. Government assignment, or exceed 90 days if outside the U.S. for other purposes.
SUBS Substance abuse follow-up records review and interview with listed or developed alcohol or drug treatment providers.
*Note– many of the same checks (e.g., FBIF/FPN, SII, INS) are done on spouses/cohabitants for Top Secret and/or SCI applicants and are prefaced with an S in front of the code.


  1. The formatting on the table did not transfer to discuss, if you want to see the original table go to the blog page and view the original post.

  2. I just finished having a “rushed” ATF Top Secret background investigation done on myself and I am super curious as to why my 2 year cohabitant girlfriend was not interviewed. Even during the interview the only question asked was her work location and for their contact info. I am assuming that a lot of those checks were done on her as well.

    Furthermore, thank you for that list. I hadFOIA requested my whole BG and have since left a message with the liasion to try and narrow the scope to the ROI.

  3. Current spouses/cohabitants are not interviewed, only former ones within the scope. Reason being is that current ones have a vested interest in you getting the clearance and because they currently live with you, will not say anything that may jeopardize the relationship.