1. What is an industrial personnel security clearance?
An industrial personnel security clearance, referred to as a "PCL", is an administrative determination that an industrial employee is eligible for access to classified information. This determination is based on investigation and review of available personal data and a finding that access is clearly consistent with national interests.
2. Who issues the personnel security clearance?
A personnel security clearance determination is made by the adjudicative organization with cognizance over the individual.
3. Who may have access to classified information
Only those persons who have a bona fide need-to-know and who possess a personnel security clearance at the same or higher level as the classified information to be disclosed may have access to classified information.
4. When may an individual be processed for a personnel security clearance?
An individual may be processed for a personnel security clearance when employed by a cleared contractor in a job requiring access to classified information. As an exception, a candidate for employment may be processed for a personnel security clearance provided a written commitment for employment has been made by the contractor, and the candidate has accepted the offer in writing. The commitment for employment will indicate that employment shall commence within 30 days of the granting of eligibility for a PCL.
5. Are non-U.S. citizens eligible for a personnel security clearance?
No. However, under rare circumstances, a non-U.S. citizen may be issued a Limited Access Authorization for access to classified information. Specific criteria and limitations are provided in the NISPOM. You may also contact your IS Rep for additional information.
6. Can a cleared individual access any and all classified information?
No. The individual must have both the appropriate level of personnel security clearance and a need-to-know for the classified information.
7. Do contractors have the authority to grant, deny, or revoke personnel clearances for their employees?
No. This authority is reserved by the Government.
8. How long does a personnel security clearance remain in effect?
Generally speaking, a personnel security clearance remains in effect as long as the individual remains continuously employed by the cleared contractor and can reasonably be expected to require access to classified information. To preclude excessive clearances, the Facility Security Officer should continually review the number of employees with the personnel security clearances and reduce the number of clearances whenever possible.
9. Who may apply for a security clearance?
Individuals cannot apply for a personnel security clearance application on their own. Rather, the company determines whether an employee will require access to classified information in performance of tasks or services related to the fulfillment of a classified contract. Once the company makes this determination, the individual may be processed for a security clearance.
10. What is the purpose of a security clearance?
The purpose of a security clearance is to determine whether a person is able and willing to safeguard classified national security information, based on his or her loyalty, character, trustworthiness, and reliability.
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11. Who decides what level of clearance a person receives?
The company determines the positions that require a security clearance, as well as the level required, based upon the duties and responsibilities of each position. This determination is based on contractual needs and requirements.
12. What kind of investigation is conducted to make this determination?
The kind, or type, of investigation conducted depends on the access level that the individual is required to have to perform his or her official duties. For access to CONFIDENTIAL or SECRET information, a National Agency Check with Local Agency Checks and Credit Check (NACLC) is completed. For access to TOP SECRET or Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) information, a Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI) is required.
13. How many types or levels of security clearance are there?
There are three levels of security clearance, with the highest level being TOP SECRET. SECRET is the next level of clearance and CONFIDENTIAL is the lowest level. In addition, some classified information has extra protection measures applied such as SCI and Special Access Programs (SAP). Special approval must be given to have access to this information. "For Official Use Only" is not a security classification. It is used to protect information covered under the Privacy Act and other sensitive data.
14. What work does each clearance allow a person to do?
A clearance allows a person filling a specific position to have access to classified national security information up to and including the level of clearance that they hold, so long as the person has a need to know for the information to perform his or her duties.
15. Will my clearance transfer to other federal agencies?
In most cases it will transfer. All federal agencies adjudicate using the 13 Adjudication Guidelines and reciprocal recognition of existing personnel security clearance adjudications throughout the national security community is strongly emphasized by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB has issued guidance regarding reciprocity of access eligibility determinations to ensure that investigations are only conducted to grant new security clearances when they are actually required.
16. Does having a security clearance guarantee employment with an organization?
No. The hiring process addresses whether someone will be initially selected for a particular position within an organization. The security clearance process does not begin until after an applicant is hired or the organization has made a written commitment for employment and the applicant has accepted the offer in writing. Further, personnel security clearances are only initiated when employees will have a need for access to classified information to perform his or her duties.
17. Where do I get a copy of a background investigation?
To request a copy of a background investigation, applicants should submit a request to the DCSA FOI/PA office, using the INV100 Freedom of Information, Privacy Act Record Request Form or submit a handwritten request.
18. Are members of my family or people living with me subject to a security check?
There are circumstances in which limited records checks or an investigation may be conducted on a spouse or cohabitant. National agency checks are conducted on spouses and/or cohabitants of individuals being processed for a TOP SECRET clearance. Additional investigations may be conducted when the spouse or cohabitant is a foreign national.
*A cohabitant is defined as someone with whom you live together as husband and wife and the relationship involves the mutual assumption of marital rights, duties, and obligations, which are usually manifested by married people, including, but not necessarily dependent on, sexual relations.
19. Why would I be denied a security clearance?
The Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information are used by DoD Central Adjudication Facilities to determine both initial and continued eligibility for access to classified information. The adjudication process is an examination of a sufficient period of a person's life to make an affirmative determination that the person is an acceptable security risk. Eligibility for access to classified information is predicated upon the individual meeting these personnel security guidelines. The adjudication process is the careful weighing of a number of variables known as the whole-person concept. All available, reliable information about the person, past and present, favorable and unfavorable, is considered in reaching a clearance determination. When an individual's life history shows evidence of unreliability or untrustworthiness, questions arise whether the individual can be relied on and trusted to exercise the responsibility necessary for working in a secure environment where protection of classified information is paramount.
20. What option do those who have a security clearance revoked or denied have to regain or attain a clearance?
An individual whose security clearance has been denied or revoked by a central adjudication facility has the opportunity to appeal the decision. The process for doing so differs between military and civilian personnel and contractors. Executive Order 12968, "Access to Classified Information," prescribes the process for military and civilian personnel. Executive Order 10865, "Safeguarding Classified Information Within Industry," outlines the process for contractors.
For contractor personnel, the denial, revocation and appeal process is the responsibility of the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA). The individual may request a hearing before a DOHA administrative judge in order to provide additional, relevant information and will have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. Upon completion of the hearing, the administrative judge will render a decision. If the decision is to deny or revoke the security clearance, the individual has the opportunity to appeal the decision to the Appeal Board. The Appeal Board will review the case file and render its decision. This decision is final and concludes the appeal process.
At the conclusion of the appeal process, an individual whose security clearance has been denied or revoked may not reapply for a security clearance for one year from the date of the final decision. The individual may reapply for a security clearance through his or her employing activity if there is a need for access to classified information. The individual is responsible for providing documentation that the circumstances or conditions which resulted in the denial or revocation have been rectified or sufficiently mitigated to warrant reconsideration. The central adjudication facility may accept or reject the reapplication.
21. How often is a security clearance renewed?
An individual is normally subject to periodic reinvestigation at a minimum of every five years for a TOP SECRET level clearance, every 10 years for a SECRET level clearance and every 15 years for a CONFIDENTIAL level clearance.
22. What can cause a delay in the security clearance process?
The most common areas of delay include the submission of incomplete security application packages, poorly collected fingerprints and investigations that involve coverage of extensive overseas activities. Individuals can help expedite the process by ensuring they have completed all forms in a thorough and accurate manner; familiarizing themselves with the appearance of a properly rolled set of fingerprints, to ensure they are recorded properly; and when possible, providing stateside references that can verify foreign activities.
23. How do I process release(s), fingerprint cards, and SF-312 classified information non-Disclosure agreements?
NISPOM Paragraph 3-105 requires that an individual issued an initial personnel security clearance (PCL) execute a Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement (SF-312) prior to being granted access to classified information and that the completed form is forwarded to the Cognizant Security Agency for retention. The Facility Security Officer (FSO) is responsible for annotating the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) with the date the SF-312 was executed and submitting the completed SF-312 to Vetting Risk Operations Center (VROC) for retention. The new, preferred method of transmission is via fax, this allows for a more expedient entry into our systems. SF-312s should be faxed or mailed: Fax Number: (443)661-1140 ATTN: SF-312 If using the fax method, please include the following information on the cover letter:
- FSO Name
- FSO Phone Number
- FSO Fax Number
- FSO Email Address
- Subject Name
- Subject SSN
Fax Address: DCSA.ncr.DCSAfirstname.lastname@example.org
. When using the email option, password protect the file in the first email and send the actual password in a separate email.
24. What can I do to speed the process?
A lot of detailed information is required to conduct a background investigation. Information such as complete names, addresses, telephone numbers, and dates of birth for relatives will be required. The form the clearance applicant completes is online and permits information to be gathered even after the process fill out the form (once), complete and submit it. When periodic updates are required, the applicant will only need to update information that has changed since the initial submission. If the applicant would like to preview the type of information that will be required, access the Questionnaire for National Security Positions(Standard Form 86) and begin collecting information so it will be available when needed.
25. Where can I get assistance completing my security clearance package or inquire about the status of my security clearance?
The company Facility Security Officer (FSO) should be the first contact for assistance in completing a security clearance package or to inquire into the status of a security clearance. The Knowledge Center is also available.
26. When will the DoD CAF begin to conduct 4th Estate SCI determinations?
The effective date was July 1, 2016.
27. How will current on-going cases be affected?
Nominations submitted prior to the effective date of July 1, 2016, will be adjudicated by the DIA. However, any cases already in the DIA inventory that were already adjudicated by the DoD CAF for Top Secret were transferred back to the DoD CAF for SCI adjudication.
28. How do I contact DIA Personnel Security, Adjudication Branch (SEC-3B) for more information regarding the DoD CAF transfer?
Contact DIA Personnel Security, Adjudication Branch (SEC-3B) for more information regarding the DoD CAF transfer, using the following email address: email@example.com.
29. Can Personnel Security Clearance (PCL) applications be submitted for 'Potential Employees'? How should the 'Potential Employee' document employment in the SF-86?
Per the NISPOM, DoD5220.22M, 2-205. Pre-employment Clearance Action. If access to classified information is required by a potential employee immediately upon commencement of their employment, a PCL application may be submitted to the Cognizant Security Agency by the contractor prior to the date of employment provided a written commitment for employment has been made by the contractor, and the candidate has accepted the offer in writing. The commitment for employment will indicate that employment shall commence within 30 days of the granting of eligibility for a PCL. When filling out the Standard Form (SF) 86, Employment History, section 13, it requires individuals to provide ONLY current and previous work location addresses and supervisor names, addresses, and contact information -- 'NOT Future Employment'.
The National Background Investigations Bureau provides six tips to filling out the SF-86, Employment History, section 13:
- List ALL beginning with the present and back 10 full years with no breaks. No job is too short or insignificant to list.
- Do NOT list tentative or future employments.
- Do not stretch employment dates to fill gaps when you were really unemployed for a month or more.
- Provide the physical work location.
- Whether or not you agree, if the employer would say that you were fired, terminated, or left under unfavorable circumstances, list and explain.
- Discipline, warnings, reprimands, etc. - If you received one, list it (Verbal, written, formal, and informal, etc.)
30. How can non-DoD NISP agencies verify subject’s enrollment in DoD Continuous Evaluation without Defense Information System for Security (DISS) access?
31. One or more of my investigation requests is still awaiting approval by DCSA, when will it be processed?
VROC actively monitors the age of the investigation request inventory and is diligently processing Investigation Requests in the order in which the request was received. Your patience and understanding is greatly appreciated. Please note: While JPAS shows a 90 day expiration clock, the expiration date for e-QIPs was increased from 90 days to 120 days. Therefore, e-QIPs will not expire until they reach negative 30 days (-30) in JPAS.
32. Does DCSA still process Critical Priority Requests (CPR)?
Although Critical Priority Requests, or expeditious processing of select investigation requests, is no longer available. VROC actively monitors the age of the investigation request inventory and is diligently processing Investigation Requests in the order in which the request was received. Your patience and understanding is greatly appreciated.
33. When will an interim be issued?
VROC actively monitors the age of the investigation request inventory and is diligently processing Investigation Requests in the order in which the request was received. An interim determination will be made once the investigation is scheduled and advanced products are returned to VROC by the Investigation Service Provider (ISP). Your patience and understanding is greatly appreciated. A high level process flow outlining this and other PCL activities associated with obtaining a security clearance for Industry is provided here for your ease of reference, and Step #6 outlines the interim activities. DoD policy requires the following for an Interim Secret to be granted:
- Favorable review of the SF-86
- Favorable fingerprint check
- Proof of U.S. citizenship
- Favorable review of local records, if applicable
34. One (or more) of my employee’s investigation request terminated out of JPAS, what should I do?
For Tier 3, Tier 3 R and Tier 5 requests - a new investigation request must be initiated, and the employee must re-answer the lifestyle “yes/no” questions and update any information that has changed since the original submission. Once you have submitted the new request to DCSA and it is showing “Ready for Review/Approval”, please contact the DCSA Knowledge Center at 1-888-282-7682, Option #2. Note: Also answer question #5, concerning fingerprint check expiration, if applicable.
For Tier 5 R requests - At this time, please do not submit/resubmit for Top Secret reinvestigation unless the requisite SAP Caveat criteria is met and clearly identified as described here. If the Tier 5 R request is for SAP Caveat, please follow the Tier 3, Tier 3 R and Tier 5 guidance provided above.
35. Will my employee’s fingerprints expire if DCSA is holding the investigation request?
Electronic fingerprints should be submitted at the same time or just before an investigation request is released to DCSA in JPAS. You can confirm NBIB has processed the fingerprints by checking the Security/Suitability Investigations Index (SII) in JPAS which indicates a "SAC" closed. Fingerprint results are valid for 120 days, the same amount of time for which e-QIP signature pages are valid. Therefore, submitting electronic fingerprints at the same time or just before you complete your review for adequacy and completeness should prevent an investigation request from being rejected for missing fingerprints. A high level process flow outlining this and other PCL activities associated with obtaining a security clearance for Industry is provided here for your ease of reference, and Step #2 outlines the submission activities. Note: If fingerprints are submitted well before an employee certifies their investigation request, it is possible the fingerprints could expire. Please monitor the date of the fingerprint (SAC) result and submit a new set of fingerprints should the SAC exceed 120 days.
36. I have an employee whose investigation has been open for over a year now, is the investigation still running?
You can obtain an investigation status update by performing a search of the Security/Suitability Investigations Index (SII) in JPAS. This link is available at the bottom of the Person Summary Screen in JPAS (Perform SII Search). The following statuses are available to let you know what is happening with the investigation: Received -- The Investigation Service Provider has acknowledged receipt of the investigation request and will be reviewing for acceptability.
Unacceptable -- The Investigation Service Provider determined the investigation request to be deficient. VROC will transmit a JPAS message with the reason the request was rejected. If your employee still requires a clearance, a new investigation request will need to be initiated and submitted with the corrected information.
Scheduled -- The Investigation Service Provider has determined the investigation request to be acceptable and the investigation is current ongoing/open.
Closed -- The Investigative Service Provider has completed the investigation and the investigation has been sent for adjudication.
Case Action (CA) Considered -- The "CA Considered" in SII indicates that the case is closed pending leads at NBIB. Once the investigation is closed it will be sent to the DoD CAF for adjudication. DISS/JVS will be updated once the adjudication process is complete.
The Knowledge Center will no longer provide lead count and does not have the ability to estimate nor impact investigation timelines.
37. When should I submit for Top Secret Reinvestigation?
VROC is currently managing the investigation request inventory in order to stay within our budget authority, with priority being given to requests for initial clearances. This may result in Tier 5 Reinvestigations either terminating from the system or being rejected if a Special Access Program (SAP) Caveat is not identified as described in the February 10, 2017 guidance available here. Please note: a SAP Caveat applies only where DoD Policy explicitly states an investigation must be conducted at five year intervals for personnel within a certain program. The SAP Caveat does not apply to every person on a SAP, but only specific programs designated by DoD, in writing. At this time, please do not submit/resubmit for Top Secret reinvestigation unless the requisite SAP Caveat criteria is met and clearly identified. VROC will provide additional guidance on submission of requests for Non-SAP Caveat Tier 5 Reinvestigations through public communications and system of record messaging. To facilitate the change in periodicity of Top Secret Reinvestigations and clearance timeliness issues, on Dec. 7, 2016, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence signed a memorandum reminding DoD Components that personnel security clearances do not expire. Individuals with current eligibility in JPAS should not be denied access based on an out-of-scope investigation. This memorandum is available on the DCSA website and was disseminated to non-DoD NISP signatories on March 28, 2017.
February 10, 2017 Guidance Summary:
Please submit only Tier 5 Reinvestigation e-QIPs for Special Access Programs (SAP) where SAP policy explicitly states a Tier 5 Reinvestigation is due every five years. Please note: a SAP Caveat applies only where DoD Policy explicitly states an investigation must be conducted at five year intervals for personnel within a certain program. The SAP Caveat does not apply to every person on a SAP, but only specific programs designated by DoD, in writing. Note: SCI is NOT considered a SAP Caveat and should not be submitted. To annotate the SAP Caveat, please include the following in the “Special Handling Instructions”:
Statement indicating the e-QIP is in support of a SAP Caveat program GCA contact information
38. One of my employees is worried that their clearance will expire since their periodic reinvestigation is not submitted at five years, what should I tell the employee?
On Dec. 7, 2016, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence signed a memorandum reminding DoD Components that personnel security clearances do not expire. Individuals with current eligibility in JPAS should not be denied access based on an out-of-scope investigation. When the system of record shows current adverse information, but eligibility is still valid, access may continue.
39. One of my employees is worried that their clearance will expire since their periodic reinvestigation is not submitted at five years, what should I tell the employee?
DCSA Knowledge Center at 1-888-282-7682, Option #2, is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. ET, excluding federal holidays. Your call is important to us and we value your patronage to the Knowledge Center. We're working diligently to answer all calls during our business operations and we look forward to assisting you with e-QIP pin resets/lockouts and Personnel Security inquiries. If your call is not answered by 5 p.m., please end the call and contact the Knowledge Center the following business day.