Clarification on Reciprocity: National Security & Public Trust

I currently have a favorably adjudicated Tier 3, Noncritical Sensitive investigation. (I’m a uniformed federal law enforcement officer)
I’m considering applying to a position that requires a Tier 2, Moderate Risk Public Trust investigation. (also a uniformed federal law enforcement officer position)

If I apply to the Tier 2 job, I was hoping my Tier 3 investigation would be reciprocated. However, after some research on this website it appears that it doesn’t always work that way.

Am I correct in my understanding that Public Trust and National Security investigations differ in their criteria and/or investigative scope and therefore are not necessarily comparable and not transferable?

Thank you in advance.

If you have a current Tier 3 on file that was favorably adjudicated then DCSA will not process a request for a Tier 2 since a higher level investigation was already done. Excluding State Department, most agencies will follow this guidance set forth by ODNI, DCSA, and OPM.

Thank you! That’s interesting.

So is it safe to say that the investigation tiers are in fact organized as a hierarchy?
For example, Tier 4 entails a more in depth investigation than Tier 3 and so on?

Correct! That is h.ow it works.

I did some searches on reciprocity and came upon this from DHS: Expedited EOD for Contractors With Active Security Clearances.

Looks like if you have a favorable Tier 3 with an active clearance, you can go for a T4 and expedite your EOD.


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Could you please shed light on how such a reciprocity might work?

Will the new agency have me submit the SF85P for Tier 2, then DCSA will inform them that a Tier 3 has already been done on me.

Or will the agency contact DCSA and verify that I already have a Tier 3 on file.

I’m guessing I should be proactive and inform the agency about my Tier 3 during the interview or post-interview phase.

You will submit a new SF85…things may have changed since your last investigation.

My Tier 3 was adjudicated in early 2020. Not much has changed for me during the past year.

I went to the publicly available Personnel Security website of the agency in question and found that they have Inter-Agency Reciprocity forms. Both for clearances and suitability investigations. So it appears they do have such a system in place.

Marko, and what normally happens after that? Does the employing agency make a suitability determination based on the investigation on file?

Thank you.

That memo says that if you are going to work on a classified contract AND you already have the appropriate level of clearance from DoD, then you can start working on a DHS contract while waiting for your “fitness” to be determined.

Coupla questions:

  1. why a DoD clearance? Not other agencies?
  2. what is “fitness” in DHS-speak? Is that the same as “suitability?” Or is “fitness” for contractors?

And @misterbuble please note that the existence of a reciprocity procedure does not mean that reciprocity is granted in all cases, even when it would seem like a slam dunk. There’s always some weasel room in those procedures.

Looks like DHS uses a fitness determination for contractors. Equivalent to a “suitability” determination for federal employees.

I had to google. I don’t work for DHS.
DHS contractor fitness

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If you are in a competitive service position then the following applies to you: Title 5 CFR 1400.201 (d) Any position receiving a position sensitivity designation at the noncritical-sensitive level shall automatically carry with that designation, without further agency action, a risk designation under 5 CFR 731.106 at the moderate level, unless the agency determines that the position should be designated at the high level. Agencies shall designate the position at the high level where warranted on the basis of criteria set forth in OPM issuances as described in §731.102(c) of this title. Check with your HR. If they did their job properly, you already occupy a moderate-risk public trust position.

Thank you for replying, sir.

I’m not too worried about my HR. However the agency that I’m considering applying to is a different story. They have a history of HR related snafus.

My agency confirmed I do have a Tier 3, but I’m having trouble verifying if the new position does in fact require a Tier 2. Job announcements and outreach notices from the agency in question are fraught with outdated OPM and NBIB terminology. HR is unresponsive. Oh well. Time will tell.

Just FYI - the gaining agency verified that they would reciprocate my Tier 3 in place of a Tier 2.

Thank you to Marko and Mr. Henderson for the advice.