Section 25 question about EVER INVESTIGATED BACKGROUND

I’ve submitted my SF86, and already had my investigator in person interview for the secret clearance and all my references were interviewed.

Any questions he had and needed were clarified.

As I now sit and wait and read the forums I am becoming anxious and I hope just over thinking.

Section 25 states:

Has the U.S. Government (or a foreign government) EVER investigated your background and/or granted you a security clearance eligibility/access?

I clicked no as I assumed this means performed the background investigation. It did not ask if I had submitted an SF86, or submitted to a polygraph before.

15 years ago I went to officer Candidate School for the military and had to leave due to an injury. I did fill out an SF86 but as far as I know, no investigation was completed in reference to the SF86.

I also applied to a 3 letter agency and submitted an SF86 4(ish) years ago. Got to the polygraph and was told I was not moving forward to the background investigation. I was never granted or denied a clearance.

I’m also a police officer that had to do a background and polygraph on the state level Before being hired but I’m assuming that’s not the US government.

I read on federal soup someone saying (retired investigator) that as long as you didn’t have an the official background Into the SF86 investigation started that “no” is an acceptable answer. However that was a topic from 9 years ago.

Am I overthinking the question?
If he had a question about it if the system shows I had submitted sf86s in the past, would he have asked me to clarify?

You are overthinking lol! You are fine answering the way you did

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Thank you. The police work has slowed down immensely the last month so all I can do is sit/ drive around and think… and thinking is never good. Lol. Thank you so much.

Hell I’ve been a cop for 11 years, go on shootings that don’t phase me, have been involved in bad calls, and the one thing that actually gets to me is, “are they going to pass over me because of the way I interpreted a question.” Ha.

Can you provide a bit more info on the “Not going forward due to the Background investigation”? It may be a “suitability” denial which is always better than a denial. But in order for a BI to eliminate you…a BI had to be opened up on you, and that means you WERE investigated. Now, the fact you passed a BI for the Police tells me you likely overcame whatever it was. The Officer candidate one can easily be set aside as you left prior to commissioning and you can answer you do not know if it was formally granted at the point you had to leave. But, the one from 4 years ago…isn’t as easy to talk away. Clearly there is a “something” that existed 4ish years ago. It may have been challenged credit, or too recent recreational drug or misuse of prescription medications, that is now overcome by years. Can you give a bit more info as to what the BI uncovered that you think may have been what stopped you? And did you get a statement of reasons (SOR) explaining this or just an email saying No Go?

I was told they did not think I was truthful on the “3 letter agency” polygraph and would not be moving forward to the background investigation. There was NOTHING that existed 4ish years ago. The polygraph guy simply said, “you are showing deception and I believe lying about something.” I told him there is nothing else I have to disclose and I am being absolutely honest. I have zero clue what could have caused the problem… other than the fact that they are a good TOOL, but I believe should not be the reason to fail someone out. We do it at our agency plenty… we’ve hired guys who later said they beat the polygraph, and I can attest for having “lied” on a polygraph when having absolutely NOT lied.

(just my opinion on the use of the machine)

My credit is 800+
I have had no drug issues or use of drugs, no issues of medication, criminal behavior. The only thing I have been involved in was a gun battle at work which caused me to seek treatment for depression and stress. That never even came up on the polygraph.

All I got from the secret service was a letter saying, “you will not be moving onto the background investigation portion." On Federal Soup these two were quotes from I believe a retired investigator and some other senior member:

Dear Lew Archer,

the FBI is one of those agencies that conduct polygraphs prior to conducting a background investigation (bi), supposely to save additional resources ($$) should the applicant fail it and be rejected for failing it.

Failing a polygraph exam is not asked in the SF-86 and will not prevent you from getting a new job, not unless that new job requires you to be polygraphed and you don’t pass it.

I have witness numerous times folks “failing” a polygraph over at X agency, and then “passing” it at Y agency.

I have also witness many, many times folks “not passing it” and keeping their security clearances.

So one isn’t required to list it (not passing it or even passing it) in their SF-86.

Polygraphs are used as a supplement to, not as a subsitute for, other forms of investigations.

Polygraph exams are used for many reasons, such as to resolve serious credible adverse information, it also may be requested by the applicant themselves for exculpatory purposes in connection with a security clearance investigation, but they are primary administered to detemine eligibility for special assignments or access to special catergories of classified information, not for security clearances.

The polygraph has a history of controvesy, which I will not comment on.

Hope this helps.
Jim Hennessey
Leesburg, VA
Federal Background Investigator (Ret.)
Security Clearance Consultant


I agree with Mr. Hennessey. Poly’s with the FBI are done preinvestigation, so on your SF-86 or E-quip can check no, that you’ve never been declined a clearance, nor has your background investigated.

My bad. I misread and thought you wrote not moving forward “due to” the BI." Meaning you HAD a BI. Some agencies do indeed start with the Poly as they found statistics supporting that more were eliminated there than the BI. So don’t waste time doing BI’s on folks who will not pass the Poly. My client starts with the BI. That spies have passed Poly’s and continued to spy means…well…obviously they are beatable. Personally I despise them and have had 4 over 10 years, getting ready to roll back in for the next 5 years. That said…and coupled with all you said below…you had enough areas the polygrapher did not like in order to not pass his/her muster. Normally Poly is reviewed at several levels and perhaps how you handled what they told you ended your prospects. I advise people to always say “I will return if need be.” Or I cannot imagine why I would read like that, I am willing to go again." If one bluntly states they have nothing to hide and perhaps is more agitated than what they consider acceptable…they say no. Also possible they had 5 candidates with easy to resolve readings, yours were off the chart for innocent reasons, but they didn’t want to waste time with you. I think you are okay with answering No to prior investigations, once you clarify what you presented here. Do tell them how far along you were in commissioning and that you are unaware if one completed or not. Personally I believe it is best revealing you were a No Go for Secret Service, but have since cleared and worked fine as a police officer. They may or may not see that you were a no go for Secret Service.

This was a very thorough and appreciated reply. I greatly appreciate it. I agree with you 100%

As I’ve already met with the investigator, and he has since submitted the report, I will wait. He assured me that if the case worker has any issues, he will absolutely reach out to me to clarify any questions. I understand this is a tactic by investigators to make you feel at ease. But we both got a long great. He was a former cop, federal agent, and now investigator. He was super friendly and even went over thing in anticipation that he saw may be questioned by the adjudicator. As I said, this could have all been an “act” but from what I see it looks like investigators aren’t out to “get you or catch you (unless they have to), but rather clarify.

Just curious what state or region of the US do you work in? Is it that unenticing of a gig that you want to leave?

You mean leave my police gig for the security job. 100%.

Yeah, what’s the reason for leaving it, stable and all

Oh and to make more money.

Morale in the department is at an all time low. We’ve got cops quitting left and right due to leadership. We are way understaffed. And it’s just not fun at my current employer anymore.

Do you mind if I ask which state? I’ve had an itch to go into LE but these days things seem to be turning out worse for many depts.

I got unsuitable from a 3 letter ages ago after poly and was unsure about Q25 so I emailed the three letter. They said I was to check yes but to go on and affirm I was not denied a clearance as the unsuitable letter stated. I’ve done that in multiple subsequent sf86s and it’s never been an issue.

Hi, I know its been a while but I wanted to ask what ended up happening? Any updates? Thank you!