Background Investigations

OPM Issues New Security Clearance Investigation Guidelines

While we often talk broadly about the time it takes to process security clearances, the investigation itself is the heart of security clearance adjudication. After several years of working to prevent duplication of efforts and the lengthy delays in transferring clearances between agencies or reinvestigating previously investigated individuals, the new guidelines seem to take a step backward.

The Office of Personnel Management’s revised standards use a five-tiered system with six types of investigations and two types of reinvestigations. The new standards don’t allow for an easy transition between public trust and national security positions, largely due to different application forms used. Moral of the story? Prepare for perhaps even lengthier delays when transferring between agencies with different clearance applications, or when applying for higher levels of clearance.

Comment Archive

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    Having been security cleared in the past it was a very slow, drawn out process which I am sure can be streamlined if some thought was put to it – but how?

    References, credit checks, CRBs are all well and good but there is still a risk factor that cannot be ignored.

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    I’m in the process of filling out the new and improved SF-86 for my reup.

    What a nightmare. I thought doing the ESI off of it was bad, filling it out is an entire new pain in the ass.

    I just can’t believe this is what they came up with.

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    Fed –

    I conducted my first 12/2010 SF-86 ESI recently. It was quite an experience. I’m rather disappointed with the CCY – it’s as if it were specifically designed to be anti-user friendly. It’s a mess. And the SF-86 STILL doesn’t encompass all basic required questioning – WHY?

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    WHY is the million dollar question.

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    Worst part of the CCY for me is that it doesn’t list all of the questions in their entirety (I guess that’s what puts the “compact” in CCY), which means that I have to have the CCY, a copy of the full questions (with branches), and the handy new issue res guide we were given.

    The awkwardness of getting used to using a new form in interview is significantly compounded by the fact that I’m basically using 3 separate guide at once for one interview. Having been so comfortable with the old guide and issue res questions, I find it to be rather embarrassing and unprofessional to be fumbling through so many pages during the interviews. Hopefully they’ll come up with something more consolidated sometime soon. Until then, guess I’ll just have to deal with looking clueless.

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    Very Special Investigator-

    You are absolutely correct, fumbling with the guides and the case papers makes me feel very unprofessional. On the flip side, I don’t want to miss anything.

    They really made this thing difficult for no apparent reason.

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    Are you guys using a government form? Need I say more 🙂

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    I apologize if this is the wrong place for this but I was looking for a bit of advice. I am in the running for a position which would require a secret clearance. This has never been a concern for me before so I just began looking into what that really requires and the financial check has me concerned.
    I am a student who returned to grad school in 2008 and lost my job soon after. I have bounced in and out of what ever positions I could work around my class schedule but it has left me not quite getting by. I have numerous “30 days late”s on my credit report, one 90 and one 120.
    I have no delinquent debt currently, no defaults, and other than student loans (40k) I owe about 4k on my car and 1500 on my 2 credit cards.
    Can anyone give me an idea of what my chances are and what I can do to improve them between now and Feb when the investigation would begin?

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    Jim E

    Sounds like you have caught up. If you have any outstanding/late debt, immediately call the creditors and work with them. Being late is not a clearance killer, but making no attempts to square-up the debt can be.

    It sounds (IMO) like you have done things the right way and should be good barring any other issues.

    Don’t be alarmed if you do not get an interim clearance because of money issues–this is normal. Give the process time to run and I think you will be fine.

    Good luck

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    Looks like OPM has awarded the their field work contract and no big suprise that USIS, Keypoint and CACI were the three companies awarded the contract. Not too much else is stated in the award announcement. Here is the link to the contract bid. Just scroll the right hand side of the screen and you will see the Announcement of Award in .doc format.

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    Thanks for the opinion BW. I’ll come report back when all is said and done. Hopefully after going through the process I can share my experience with others in my current position.

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    Anyone heard any rumors on the new contract awards? I know USIS, Keypoint, and CACI were all given awards. Anyone hear any surprises in the contracts? I heard a rumor the 99% quality requirement was lessened. I’ve also heard the cost to us to replace our badge is $2k!!!!

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    I hadn’t heard about the quality requirement adjustment or the badge replacement cost.

    I am still trying to find out if the new contract was split equally three ways between USIS, CACI and Keypoint…and if any of these three players were named the prime contractor. Also, did any of these players lose/gain a percentage of the work award vs. the old contract?

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    Human input and 99% quality is unattainable–it’s almost comical they think it’s possible.

    The 2K thing has been floating around for a while.

    I’m not sure there is a formula for dividing the work. I’m guessing, the more produced, the quicker more comes your way. I think it’s probably just a feeding frenzy.

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    We have been told about the $2000 fine as well. This also includes the OPM contractor ID cards we had to get that I never use.

    On a funny note for this Friday. We have an internal type Facebook/Twitter program where we can ask questions or post comments. One of the investigators posted that while going over a SJ’s case papers he saw she listed 14 children all with DOB’s that just were to close together to make sense. She was not married so the investigator was not sure what was going on. When the investigator asked about the SJ’s kids, she told him all 14 of her kids were her cats and since she treated them like kids she listed them on her case papers. I am not sure how I would have been able to handle that if I was the ESI investigator. I did laugh for a few minutes after I read this.

    Hope you all have a good weekend.

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    The cat thing is way too much. I might have just ended the interview there.

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    Did the cat lady include the people handcuffed to pipes in the basement???

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    Crazy cat lady = not smart enough to be granted a clearance. Does she claim them on her taxes, too? Is she issue code 12?

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    Investigator, I saw that too. Have you been told by your superiors that you have to make 5 posts on the program or else? Because we have. I’m not sure OPM would be happy to know that one of its contractors is making its investigators take time out of doing actual work to post on that, especially since OPM is handing out $2.1 billion or so in the next 5 years to that and 2 other companies.

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    @ Tired: Our TL has told us one post a day but what is funny is she doesn’t even do that.

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    Send me the link and I’ll gladly post something there 🙂

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    BW –

    You are always willing to give of yourself 😉

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    I used to have a government secret clearance. I left the agency due to two petty thefts charges. I am a GS1102 and want to find a job doing contract administration but I dont know which government agencies have GS1102 positions that do not require a clearance. Can you or do you know anyone than help me track down where to look for this info.

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    I have a case currently in adjudication for a overseas contractor (Secret). Investigator told me the DSS deadline was Nov 29, does anybody know if issuing agencies are given a deadline by the government? Thanx