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Cooperation in Federal Background Investigations

Employers & Businesses

Why did I receive a written request for employment verification?

For some types of investigations, a written request is the primary means of gathering information about a person’s character, conduct and employment history. In these cases, NBIB may send a written inquiry (INV 41) to the employer in order to verify the subject’s employment history, and gather relevant character and conduct information. For other types of investigation NBIB must send an Investigator to personally obtain this information. 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 the Government fill critical positions without delay. 

What is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), National Background Investigations Bureau (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

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May we photocopy the credentials of Special Agents/Investigators?

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

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. 

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How does NBIB determine which employers to contact?

NBIB covers periods of employment that occurred during the scope of the investigation (generally 5 to 10 years). The employment periods may be offered by the subject of investigation or developed during the course of the investigation. The subject may no longer be employed with your company or agency, but verification is still necessary to provide a complete history of the subject’s employment record. 

What type of employment information is NBIB requesting?

When a written request is sent, we ask for verification of the information provided on the front of the form, claimed employment dates, position, name of supervisor, 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 in the written request including subject’s dates of employment, as well as performance or conduct issues and disciplinary actions taken. In addition, the Investigator will ask about the subject’s reason for leaving, re-hire eligibility, and if terminated, specific circumstances of the departure and how the subject was notified. Investigators also may need to interview current or previous co-workers to obtain a comprehensive, substantive overview of the subject’s employment activities. In all cases, in addition to requesting this information, the investigation is seeking to identify any issues that might be related to employment suitability or that could affect national security. 

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

Yes. If you receive a written request, you may 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).

Who can I contact with questions or concerns?

You may contact OPM’s NBIB, Records Access and Liaison Group at 724-794-5612 or at the following address:

U.S. Office of Personnel Management
National Background Investigations Bureau
Attn: Records Access and Liaison
PO Box 618
1137 Branchton Road
Boyers, PA 16018-0618

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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 employment records.

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