The personnel security background investigation begins after an individual has been given a conditional offer of employment and has completed the appropriate security questionnaire, usually a Standard Form 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions, and other required forms. It is required that job candidates complete the questionnaire and other required forms thoroughly, honestly, and with candor.
Human Resources will submit the completed security questionnaire and other required forms, also known as the security package, to USSS's Intake Office. Once the security package is received by the Intake Office, it will be reviewed for completeness, preliminary checks will be conducted, and the information will be formally entered into a Case Management system. After preliminary checks are completed a Security Interview will be scheduled where a Drug Test will be performed and National agency record checks and scanned fingerprint checks are then conducted. A case manager will direct the background investigation to cover key events and contacts from the individual's past and present history.
A critical step in the background investigation is the face-to-face security interview the individual will have. This interview usually occurs within a few weeks of an individual submitting a complete security clearance package. The interviewers verify the information an individual has supplied in his or her security package, such as where he or she has lived, gone to school, and worked. USSS Agents talk to current and former neighbors, supervisors, co-workers, classmates, as well as to the references an individual provided. Agents also contact law enforcement agencies in each of the places an individual has lived, worked, or attended school. Once the Agents have completed a report, highly trained security clearance adjudicators will weigh the results against existing adjudicative guidelines for security clearances.
Most individuals will be granted a security clearance, although complicating factors or derogatory findings may delay a decision or result in a Better Qualified Applicant (BQA) decision or denial of a security clearance.