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General FAQs on the Background Investigations Process

Frequently Asked Questions

  • We talk to as many knowledgeable people as possible to get a balanced, accurate, and comprehensive picture of the person being investigated. Later, you may have an opportunity to refute any misleading or false information that was reported about you.
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  • Suitability determinations are made on a case by case basis in accordance with part 731 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, for covered positions that are subject to investigation.  Covered positions are those in the competitive Federal service, those in the excepted service that noncompetitively convert to the competitive service, or career appointments to positions in the Senior Executive Service.  This regulation does not apply to military personnel, positions in the excepted service other than those subject to suitability, or contractors.    A felony conviction does not automatically make one unsuitable for Federal employment.  When making a suitability determination, an agency will evaluate the individual’s character traits and decide whether their employment or continued employment would or would not protect the integrity or promote the efficiency of the service.  The factors that may form the basis for finding a person unsuitable can be found under 5 CFR 731.202(b) and include criminal or dishonest conduct.  To the extent deemed pertinent to an individual’s case, the agency making the determination must give consideration to the additional considerations found under 5 CFR 731.202(c) which include things like the nature of the position for which the person is applying, the circumstances surrounding the conduct, the recency of the conduct, and the absence or presence of rehabilitation. 
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  • Directions for requesting a copy of your background investigations that was conducted by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), National Background Investigations Bureau can be found on NBIB's website.  If you are currently in contact with your agency's Human Resources or Security Office and need access to your previously filled-out Standard Form. You may request that access via your agency's Human Resources or Security Office.
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  • NBIB's agents will leave OPM Form 1634 at the residence of contacts. Individuals can verify the status of an NBIB investigator by contacting NBIB Security and Safety Team at 888-795-5673 or fissst@opm.gov.
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  • Security clearances are granted on a need-to-have basis when a person's position requires access to classified information.  When the need to access classified information ceases (such as when the person leaves the position), the clearance is administratively withdrawn.  A withdrawn clearance may be reinstated if the same level or lower access is required within two years, a reinvestigation is not due and no additional factors apply.   There is currently no mechanism for an agency to continue to sponsor a person's clearance when the person no longer requires the access.  Your agency security office can advise you further on your specific situation.
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  • Yes. A search of the records of commercial credit reporting agencies is an integral part of almost all background investigations. The credit check done by the National Background Investigations Bureau is considered a "soft check" and does not affect your credit.
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  • Providing information that is as complete and accurate as possible will assure that your investigation is completed in an efficient and timely manner. If you are unable to answer a question with precision, provide approximate information, note that you have done so on the questionnaire.  If you are interviewed in person, point out the approximated information on the questionnaire to the Investigator. Estimate the date (month and year) to the best of your ability and check the "EST" checkbox, indicating that this is an estimated date.
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  • Yes. Background Investigators are required to identify, locate, and interview a sufficient number of people who know you well. We want a balanced and unbiased investigation. It would be a questionable investigative practice to only interview persons whom the individual being investigated identified for us.
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  • The interests of national security require that all persons privileged to be employed in the departments and agencies of the government shall be reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and of complete and unswerving loyalty to the United States. This means that the appointment of each civilian employee in any department or agency of the government is subject to investigation. The scope of the investigation will vary, depending on the nature of the position and the degree of harm that an individual in that position could cause. The requirement to be investigated applies whether or not the position requires a security clearance (in order to have access to classified national security information). Read more about the National Background Investigations Bureau at NBIB.OPM.GOV
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  • Each federal agency or department to which an individual applies is responsible for making the appropriate access, fitness, suitability and/or clearance determination for any position for which the person is being considered.  Therefore, it will be up to the hiring agency to decide the impact the DUI has on the hiring decision. If asked on any Federal application or background investigation document, the DUI must be reported.  
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Total Count: 54, Number of Pages: 6, Page: 1