Security Clearance: The Background Investigation

For an individual to gain access to classified information, known as a security clearance, first he or she must pass a background investigation. The purpose of the background investigation is to ensure that the individual is honest, reliable, trustworthy, and loyal to the United States.

Once an individual has received a conditional offer for employment, next they must complete the relevant security questionnaire, which is usually the Standard Form 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions, and any other necessary forms.

The job candidate is held to the highest standard of honesty, and must be thorough when they fill out the required forms. Once all of these have been filled out and submitted, the personnel security background investigation will begin.

All completed forms are sent to Human Resources, which submits the job applicant's security questionnaire with the other required forms (known as the security package) to the U.S. Department of State's Office of Personnel Security and Suitability.

The Office of Personnel Security and Suitability reviews the security package to ensure that it is complete, and the applicant's information is duly entered into the department's case management system.

From this point forward, the following occurs:

  • National agency record checks are ran,
  • Fingerprint checks are conducted,
  • A case manager is assigned to the applicant; this individual directs the applicant's background investigation,
  • The applicant has a face-to-face interview with a DS investigator (this interview occurs within a few weeks of submitting the security package),
  • The information supplied in the security package is verified,
  • References are contacted, and
  • Investigators contact law enforcement agencies where the applicant has lived, worked, or gone to school.

While most applicants are granted security clearance, if the investigators find something negative, it could lead to a delay or a denial of a security clearance.

Learn more about obtaining a security clearance by contacting the security clearance attorneys at Claery & Hammond, LLP today! We are on your side and prepared to guide you every step of the way.