DCSA Guidance Interviews

Pre-covid guidance used to allow for distance, current guidance has no mention of a distance allowance. Current guidance allows phone interviews if the source won’t meet in person. The real question is, can sources be solicited for phone interview or do they have to refuse in person or request a phone interview. I’m sure most Investigators are wording it so that it’s an either/or option which probably wouldn’t be honored in an integrity situation. Be careful.

I disagree as well. Sources generally do not want to take time away from work to meet with us in-person during work hours or leave work early (therefore using PTO), their lunch hour or after work hours as they usually have a family to tend to. Not to mention the cost of gas.

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I have not heard any ya out no phone interview yet. But it’s silly to cut that out because it saves time and money. But what do I know ?

Out of context for guidance. It’s no longer permissible just because of COVID and now must be a legit reason from Source.

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Pre-Covid was a different word. We would have never in a million years thought that the job would have gone 100% by phone. Yes, telephone interviews were tracked pre-covid…but it was a different world. It was pre-protests, pre-social distancing, pre-Zoom. The people making these rules have either never done this job or haven’t done it in 20 years. It is a different world now. People don’t want strangers coming to their house. Flashing badges when knocking on random doors is not always safe. People are working from home. Zoom/Teams meetings are normal ways of doing business. We can no longer show up at an employer and get what we need in 1 stop. We have to chase down each source and the record as nobody is in the office on the same day (if they are in the office at all). Telephone interviews were completely allowed for near 2-1/2 years and then suddenly they are not okay anymore. Any of the allowances that we had even pre-covid have been taken away. Sources are used to telephone interviews. I completely disagree that all sources will do interviews in person if you “word it correctly” but I also believe that some sources can and should be interviewed by telephone. Neighbors who hardly know their neighbors were hard enough to get by telephone and now we have to get them to meet us in person…it is amazing how a neighbor knows their neighbor until we start trying to schedule an appointment and suddenly they hardly know their neighbor anymore and can’t answer any questions…

It is like DCSA is trying to stop us in our tracks…making it impossible to get any work done (and for the contract companies to make any money)…and CACI is blind to that, forcing us to get more and more work done (because they need to make money)…we are all in an impossible situation and it is making this job unbearable…

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Whether or not sources will meet in person is irrelevant. Forcing sources to meet in person if they are not expected to be aware of or cover issues is a huge waste of time and resources. Driving 2 hours round trip for a 15 minute minute interview that might not even provide sufficient coverage is how we ended up with a 600,000 plus backlog and provides nothing to national security

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Forcing sources to meet in person is nothing I plan on doing and I don’t think DCSA wants us to either. If sources insist on phone for COVID or health/sickness/sanitary reasons I will gladly give it to them. It’s just a pivot by DCSA to start gearing everyone back into “in person” work and to watch your phone percentages. So many other professions are moving back into that mode as well. COVID has stolen a lot of personal interaction from us all and personal connections does add to the humanness of everything so many professions do.

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It would have been better if the source guidance was the same as for records, where there was maximum flexibility with the method. The new source guidance seems to be suggesting that they mostly want in-person meetings. If a source wants a phone interview and they have a reason that fits within the guidance, then we should do a phone interview. If a source does NOT ask for a phone interview and doesn’t bring it up, from what I am reading in the guidance it should be done in-person. I’ll be following the guidance verbatim. The possible concern is having a high percentage of phone interviews. It is difficult to believe that ALL sources, or mostly ALL, want a phone interview. But if we are finding out that almost all sources request a phone interview, and we carefully note their reason for that request, maybe the high percentage of phone interviews wouldn’t be a concern. This is all guesswork. I don’t know.

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“and for the contract companies to make any money”….

Since when do we care if contract companies make any money? They’ve been asking you to work time off the clock for years and you’ve complied. The contract companies have made money have over fist by not paying drive time or mileage for over 3 years. The last thing we should be worried about is the contract companies making any money. The money should be made by the Investigator and the one that does 75% of the work from start to finish. That’s why I believe direct independent federal contracting is the answer and remove the background investigation vendor from the equation.

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As an investigator, me personally wouldn’t even leave my house to meet with an investigator for my co- worker Johnnie that I haven’t spoken to in 3 years. So what makes you think others are willing to do so. They turned on a light switch from 100% phone work to BAM mandatory in person because phone is no longer acceptable! DCSA is a joke.

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After I tell a source who I am and what I want, I ask are you willing and able to meet in person? They always say yes.

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I get different responses. I often have to coax an in-person testimony in my area.

The real silliness is when i get a single extension for a source that is an hour or more away from me (some in other states) where they tell me they told the first investigator they wanted a telephone testimony. Three recently (meaning this month) because they were out of state for an extended period.

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First of all…STOP with the what if’s…if anyone who is seasoned in this job, can’t figure out how to start asking sources how to get an interview, you need you get a new job! Don’t forget we control how cases get done with production, and if everyone drops like a rock with these co called new guidance someone will make changes. Went through this a few times, lasted a short time and then as long as you note out the circumstances, you’re done. No one can force you into a high crime area, distance, or making a source comply with meeting you. Just be firm with your reporting and stick by that. Yes, there are many investigators that are abusing this and I have received many extensions due to lazy other folks that say that this person or that person wants to be interviewed in person, and when you contact them, they say they were never called and want a phone interview. That’s totally unacceptable AND I report them to my SL and add that to the Inote. You should NOT be doing this job if you screw with other investigators. Bottom line, just do YOUR job, work around any dumb ideas and if it does not work, JUSTIIFY it.

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The only way I’ve been successful is doing military cases. I can knock out an ESI, their EMPL-P and usually their REFE all at the same time / same day. Otherwise you’ll never meet SUs

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I don’t know if region matters but it’s not usually a problem to meet in person. I let them know that it’s me coming to them at home, work, wherever they want and I’ll only need about 15mins of their time. 99% are willing.

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The only real issue I’ve noticed is that no one really works in the office anymore. So previously you could do the subject interview and interview a couple co workers all in one trip.

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Yeah - that is what I am discovering too. I certainly have the ability to persuade people to meet in person, and I rarely get any real pushback. BUT: so far it is a big hit on productivity. On a good day pre-covid I might go to an employer and do my ESI, supervisor, second personal source and maybe even a reference and be out of there by noon. A good day!

Now those three or four people sit in three or four different places. One may be on site only on Mondays, the other only on Thursdays. Again I’ve had no problem persuading people to meet elsewhere in person - at their home, at a coffee shop, whatever. But as a contract investigator paid per interview it is making my numbers go down in a way that results in less income.

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This is an asinine decision made by those on a power trip with no sense of an evolved and changed environment. Bottom line - this job is a joke. If you have told yourself anything different, stop lying to yourself. When you break down time spent + expenses incurred vs. money earned, we are earning far FAR less than then the tremendous effort put forth. And how these companies can get away with not paying contract investigators for multiple annual required trainings is despicable. That is a whole other conversation.
It really is simple math, folks. What made the job slightly tolerable was the ability to have remote options AND having the ability to make common sense decisions when it should and can be applied. Now that it has been removed, there is nothing redeemable about this line of work. Millennials (most) and Gen Z get it and retaining young people with archaic principles will not be sustainable. Gen X, you are likely too brainwashed and Boomers, you are the problem.
For those that know they are being taken advantage of and have come to terms with the truth - send a message and look for other lines of work. YOU ARE WORTH it. I’m moving on and you should too.

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That must be some big ass broom you carry to make such a broad sweep…

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Sorry if the truth hurts northstar. I’m sure you are old.

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