Security Clearance Process

OPM/DCSA Getting Ready to Implement the Personnel Vetting Questionnaire

Currently, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) use three different primary forms (SF85, SF85P, and SF86) and one supplementary form (SF85P-S) for applicants to fill out for initiating background investigations. As a part of reform efforts, OPM has proposed using the Personnel Vetting Questionnaire (PVQ) to replace the other four forms in collecting information from background investigation applicants. Before OPM can implement the new PVQ, they are required to publish notification on the Federal Register to solicit comments from federal agencies. Agencies have until January 23, 2023 to submit comments.

What will this new form do to help streamline the investigation process? The most important thing it will do is consolidate collected information that will allow applicants to move within the new three tier system without necessarily requiring a new background investigation. For instance, if a person had a background investigation done for moderate risk public trust and now needs a Secret clearance, DCSA could use the background investigation already completed with whatever additional items that are required. The chart below posted by OPM on the Federal Register shows the changes between the old forms and the new PVQ:

Position designationCurrent formPVQ part
Non-Sensitive Low RiskSF 85Part A.
Non-Sensitive Moderate Risk Public TrustSF 85PPart A and Part B.
Non-Sensitive High Risk Public TrustSF 85PPart A and Part B.
Non-Critical Sensitive Moderate Risk Public TrustSF 86Part A, Part B, and Part C.
Critical-Sensitive High Risk Public TrustSF 86Part A, Part B and Part C.
Special-Sensitive High Risk Public TrustSF 86Part A, Part B and Part C.
Non-Sensitive Moderate Risk or High Risk Law Enforcement Position as specified by an agencySF 85P and SF 85P-SPart A, Part B, and Part D.

Part A contains questions covering the following areas:

  • Introduction
  • General Information
  • U.S. Passport Information
  • U.S. Citizenship Information
  • Additional Citizenships
  • Residences
  • Education
  • Employment Activities
  • Other Federal Employment
  • U.S. Military and U.S. Uniform Service
  • People Who Know You Well
  • Police Record
  • Drug Activity
  • Marijuana and Cannabis-Derivative Use
  • U.S. Personnel Vetting Investigations, Security Clearances, and Federal Debarments
  • Federal Debt
  • Information Technology Systems
  • Handling Protected Information
  • Associations

Part B contains the following additional areas:

  • Continuation Questions for Sections 4,5, 6, 7, and 11
  • Use of Alcohol and Rehabilitative Actions
  • Relationship Status
  • Relatives
  • Foreign Travel
  • Financial Record
  • Civil Court Actions

Part C contains the following additional areas:

  • Continuation Questions for Section 9
  • Foreign Contacts
  • Foreign Financial Interest and Foreign Benefits
  • Foreign Business Affairs and Foreign Government Activities
  • Psychological and Emotional Health
  • Criminal Convictions Resulting in Sentences Over One Year

Part D contains the following areas:

  • Psychological and Emotional Health

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