Security Clearance Process

New Background Investigation Tiers Are Coming

Security clearance reform has been the hot topic over the past few years with implementation of Continuous Evaluation (CE)  and Continuous Vetting (CV) programs taking the place of periodic reinvestigations, and more recently, the impending roll out of Trusted Workforce 2.0. One of the more interesting changes coming down the pike will be when the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) and the Office of Personnel Management move from the current five-tiered background investigation model to a three-tiered model that is supposed to make it easier for agencies to accept reciprocity for those moving back and forth between public trust and national security positions. According to a Government Accountability Office report published last December, the Performance Accountability Council has proposed new tiers as noted below:

–      High Tier (formerly Tiers 4 & 5): High Risk-Public Trust, DOE Q, Top Secret, SCI, Critical Sensitive, Special Sensitive.

–      Moderate Tier (formerly Tiers 2 & 3): Moderate Risk-Public Trust, DOE L, Non-Critical Sensitive, Confidential and Secret Information.

–      Low Tier (formerly Tier 1): Nonsensitive-Low Risk, Physical/Logical Access, HSPD-12 Credentialing.

An implementation date for these new tiered investigations has not yet been announced because it is dependent upon the successful transition of current legacy IT systems to the National Background Investigations Services (NBIS) which is taking longer to get stood up then was originally planned. The roll out date is also dependent upon all federal agencies getting up to speed on implementing Trusted Workforce 2.0 requirements and enrolling their populations in CV.


  1. “[M]oving back and forth between public trust and national security positions” would be a lot easier, if they simply got rid of the SF85P.

  2. Thanks for sharing Marko. Will be interesting to see the revised adjudicative criteria when it is released to the public.