Background Investigations

FBI Name Checks Hold Up Background Investigations

One of the components of every background investigation is the National Agency Check (NAC). One of the components of a NAC is the FBI name check. Among the trends that I have seen regarding what checks are most likely to hold up the completion of a background investigation, the top two are military reserve or National Guard service checks and FBI name checks. So what exactly is the FBI name check anyway and how is it different from a fingerprint check?

A fingerprint check only searches for arrests and intakes into correctional facilities. An FBI name check runs the name electronically against the FBI’s Central Records System (CRS) searching for all instances of the individual’s name appearing in FBI files. Individuals named or mentioned in FBI files may be subjects of FBI investigations, conspirators, associates, witnesses, etc. If a hit comes up then a further inquiry is made to that specific file.

Now you would think running a name through a database is no big deal and shouldn’t take that long, right? Well, consider that the FBI gets 65,000 requests per week and they have approximately 265 data storage sites that have to be checked. According to their website, about 9% of submitted names get some type of hit that has to be followed up on, so it really isn’t surprising that some background investigations get held up in limbo because of this. Unfortunately, individuals have no recourse to speed up the process, as only the investigating agency (OPM/NBIB) can submit a status or expedite request.


  1. My position doesn’t require a top secret clearance only a public trust (non sensitive) but for some odd reason they discontinued my public trust and requested me for a top secret clearance. My supervisor requested they cancel it but I was told by the FSO that since they started it. They will process it. A incident happen 51/2 years ago and I’m afraid they may deny me . I made a poor judgement call. I was asked about it and I fully disclosed what I could remember and admited my mistake . If my top secret clearance is denied do agencies ever keep the employee and just downgrade the clearance. I do not access classified information.

    Or do I have to challenge it in a hearing?

  2. If you are denied a clearance then the agency for who you work has to determine whether to retain you in a non-national security position and must evaluate the issues in the investigation using suitability guidelines to determine whether you are eligible for placement.

  3. If you only did one mistake wrong in your career 5 11/2 years ago and you admitted to it than and you admited to it now. Do they take that into consideration?

  4. Did I see somewhere on this site that the name check only occurs if there’s a hit from the fingerprint check? Or is that fake news?