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Cooperation in Federal Background Investigations

Educational Institutions

Why did I receive a written request for education verification?

For some types of investigations, a written request is the primary means of gathering information. In these cases, NBIB may send a written inquiry (INV 43) to the educational institutions in order to verify the subject’s scholastic record. For other types of investigation, NBIB must send an Investigator to personally obtain this information from the institution. Your complete and timely response to a written request is just as important as your complete and timely response to Investigators who arrive in person. In all cases, your cooperation helps to ensure the Government is able to fill critical positions and that your graduates do not experience undue delay in employment decisions while waiting for investigative results. 

What is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), National Background Investigations Buearu (NBIB) and why does it conduct background investigations?

NBIB is the primary provider of effective, efficient, and secure background investigations for the Federal Government and is designed with an enhanced focus on national security, customer service, and continuous process improvement to meet this critical government-wide need now and in the future.  NBIB’s mission is to deliver efficient and effective background investigations to safeguard the integrity and trustworthiness of the Federal workforce.

NBIB is home to an international network of Special Agents and contract investigators who conduct background investigations for members of the U.S. Military, current Federal employees, applicants for Federal positions, and employees of Federal agency contractors.  NBIB actively serves more than 100 Federal agencies, or approximately 95 percent of the total background investigations government-wide, ranging from the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense-- charged with protecting America, its citizens and vital national interests-- to the Department of Health and Human Services and Environmental Protection Agency, where employees research cures for disease and develop remedies for a cleaner planet. Agencies use NBIB investigations to determine whether individuals meet the suitability or fitness requirements for employment or continued employment, are eligible to hold a sensitive position, or are eligible for access to Federal facilities, automated systems or classified information. 

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Who conducts the background investigations?

Federally-employed NBIB Special Agents and contract Investigators working on behalf of NBIB conduct the investigations. NBIB contracts with a number of experienced companies to perform background investigation services. As authorized agents of NBIB, contract Investigators perform the same function as NBIB Special Agents under Federal law. Special Agents and contract Investigators undergo rigorous investigations training and are held to the same high standards of conduct and professionalism. 

How do we know if Special Agents/contract Investigators work for NBIB?

NBIB Special Agents and contract Investigators carry credentials identifying them as representatives of NBIB. They will present their credentials upon introduction.  Please note that through December, 2016, NBIB investigators may continue to carry credentials that indicate that they belong to the Federal Investigative Services (FIS, NBIB’s predecessor within OPM) while updated NBIB badges and credentials are provided to investigators on a rolling basis.  All credentials—either FIS or NBIB-- should include the words “U.S. Office of Personnel Management” and contain the OPM seal.  Further questions related to an Agent’s/Investigator’s identity or status should be directed to NBIB Safety and Security Team between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday at: 1-888-795-5673 or

May we photocopy the credentials of Special Agents/Investigators?

No, credentials may not be photocopied under penalty of law (18 USC 701).

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What does a background investigation cover?

The scope of an investigation varies depending on the nature of the position the subject will encumber, the type of clearance required for the position and/or the degree of harm an individual holding the position could potentially do.

Investigations usually cover the past 5 to 10 years of the subject of investigation’s background and generally include interviews with the subject, the subject’s neighbors, employers, officials at schools the subject attended, and references. They also include record checks with the local police departments in the areas where the subject has lived, worked or attended school. Fingerprints are sent to the FBI for a possible match against the Bureau’s criminal history files. A credit history and military service record also may be reviewed. 

How does NBIB determine which colleges and universities to contact?

NBIB contacts the educational institutions where the subject attended and/or earned a degree(s).

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Why is education verified in a background investigation?

There are a number of positions that require a certain level of education to qualify for appointment or pay grade.  In addition, claims of education may potentially allow an applicant to gain a hiring process advantage over other applicants without claims of education even when the education is not required. Therefore, it is essential that claimed attendance and degrees from education institutes are verified. Finally, favorable and unfavorable information related to the applicant’s period in school may be relevant to the purpose for which NBIB is conducting the investigation, such as a determination of his or her eligibility for a security clearance. 

What type of education information is NBIB requesting?

When a written request is sent, we ask for verification of the information provided on the front of the form, dates of attendance, type of degree earned and degree date, last claimed residence, and any adverse information relevant to the subject of investigation. If an Investigator visits you, he or she will seek verification of the same information shown on the written request, as well as the subject’s major area of study, whether the subject was a full- or part-time student, other schools attended (including high school) and any disciplinary actions.

May I request a release signed by the subject authorizing me to provide the information?

Yes. If you receive a written request, you can  ask for a copy of the subject’s signed Authorization for Release of Information by indicating this on the written request or by contacting NBIB directly at 724-794-5612. If an Investigator contacts you, you may request a copy of the Authorization for Release of Information directly from the Investigator. Note that the release may be digitally (electronically) signed. By law, Federal agencies are required to accept electronic signatures (Public Law 105-277, Title XVII).

Our school uses an education verification service. Can you send the verification request directly to the service?

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NBIB has full access to records maintained by the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), and we use this access when required by the educational institution.

However, we ask that the school NOT forward the written request to NSC, as this delays NBIB’s responsiveness. All such requests should be returned to NBIB with instructions to contact the NSC for records. Our Investigators have procedures for obtaining NSC information; please notify our Investigators, as well, when NSC verification is required.

NSC currently is the only educational verification service we use. If you use another verification service, please forward our written request to that service for processing.

Who can I contact with questions or concerns?

You may contact OPM’s NBIB, Federal Investigative Records Enterprise at 724-794-5612 or the following address:

U.S. Office of Personnel Management
National Background Investigations Bureau
Attn: Federal Investigative Records Enterprise
PO Box 618
Boyers, PA 16018

For deliveries requiring a street address use:
1137 Branchton Road
Boyers, PA 16016

What authorizes NBIB to conduct background investigations?

NBIB, through OPM, derives its authority to conduct background investigations from Executive Orders, laws, statutes and Federal regulations including, but not limited to the following:

The Civil Service Rules of Executive Order (E.O.) 10577, as amended, 5 U.S.C. 3301 and 7301, and 5 C.F.R. Part 731 make OPM the agency responsible for conducting investigations of qualifications, suitability, and fitness for employment in the civil service.  E.O. 13467, as amended, assigns these investigations to NBIB.

E.O. 13467, as amended, and 50 U.S.C. 3341(c), make NBIB the primary executive branch service provider to conduct background investigations for eligibility for access to classified information (security clearances) for civilians, military personnel, and contractors.   E.O. 12968, as amended provides the parameters for OPM, as an authorized investigative agency, to conduct investigations of individuals whose jobs will require them to have access to classified information.

E.O. 13467, as amended also makes NBIB the primary executive branch service provider to conduct background investigations for the eligibility to hold a national security-sensitive position, fitness to perform work as a Government contractor, fitness to work as a non-appropriated fund employee of the Armed Forces, and authorization to be issued an identity credential for access to facilities and information systems.

These executive orders also establish the requirement for Federal Investigative Standards issued by OPM and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, under which an investigation must include a check of the records of schools attended.

Once a NBIB investigation is complete, the information is provided to the employing agency for adjudication—a decision regarding whether the action to hire an individual or continue his or her employment is consistent with the interests of national security.

Each background investigation conducted by NBIB, or contractor on behalf of NBIB, is accomplished with the full knowledge and consent of the subject of the investigation. Our subjects sign a release giving us the authority to obtain information, to include education records.

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