Obtaining Security Clearance

Information and FAQs for the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security

The Department of State (DoS) Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DSS) is the division that processes and conducts all background investigations for DoS employees and contractors working for DoS. They are one of the few agencies that handle their own investigations in lieu of using the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency. Investigation levels are based on position designation and range from moderate risk public trust (no clearance) to Special Sensitive (Top Secret with SCI access). The DSS website has some pretty good information on the investigation process, interim clearances, adjudication, continuous evaluation, and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that answers many of the questions applicants may have regarding the background investigation process.

However, two things I personally have experienced with the DoS Personnel Security Program that are in need of improvement are: one, the lack of transparency in the adjudication process; and two, the failure to accept other agency investigations under reciprocity. DoS continues to expend unnecessary resources and time reinvestigating contractors who have already been investigated above and beyond what is required by DoS. They also do not publish any statistics or case summaries on denials or appeals. On another note, the DoS Personnel Security and Suitability (PSS) Customer Service Center put out a notification last week about their telephone number having been spoofed and applicants receiving fraudulent calls from what appears to be the PSS CSC with the caller asking for personal information. Here is what they advise doing if you get a suspicious call:

Please send an email to the PSS CSC at [email protected] with information about the call to assist us with resolving the issue. Please provide the following:

 Who (calling number, names, emails/phone numbers verbally provided):
• What (what was asked for/said):
• When (date/time):
• Where (what’s the name/number contact info of the reporting party):
• How (any distinctive accents or additional information):
• If money is requested: Where did the caller want money to be sent?
• Land line or mobile phone that was called:
• Your phone carrier/provider:

Also, please report this call to your local police department.