The Background Investigator's role in your investigation

Scenario: You are contacted by your background investigator and nervously wait to meet them. You ask yourself, “What are they after? What else could they possibly want to know after I filled out that monster questionnaire on line?”.

The NBIB background investigators, federal or contractor, have a unique role in the process. They are neither your friend nor your enemy. The investigator is bound by law to present all sides of any relevant information they are aware, while being concise with little filter. We don’t get rewarded because someone does or does not get their clearance/job.

What does this mean to you the Subject?The background investigator is not a “gotcha!” type of investigator. This means the investigator is literally your opportunity to tell your side of events to the adjudicator. We create a product for your adjudicator so they can make an informed decision about you. Every good investigator is going to ask you a lot of questions to try and capture all sides of any event, behavior, or incident. The investigator wants to know who they can talk to and who holds any records. This is usually to your favor when you show candor, circumstance, and rehabilitation. This information also helps close your case quickly.

This also means the investigation will report when you try to hide information, such as when they say “well, during the course of the investigation”. The confrontation is not always bad for the Subject. Perhaps you didn’t know about the event or the incident involved a relative with a similar name. Maybe it wasn’t you because you were not at that time/place and provide people who can confirm your story. Perhaps you hoped we would never find out about that expunged court record or drug use.

This is the background investigator side that helps you. The other side of the background investigator is the one that hunts for people who speak honestly and frankly about you, or can confirm your side of your story (or provide a different view). The background investigator is required to find records and people who can provide us with your story. When we find conflicting or new information, depending on the discovered information and the requesting agency, we go back and ask you why you didn’t report the information. Reread the previous paragraph about “during the…”.

We are responsible to report what we see and hear - good and bad.We are responsible to protect the information we know about you.

What does this mean to you the Subject? Be frank and forthcoming with information and issues.Don’t try to play the “word game” because that game never ends well for the Subject. A negative event or information becomes worse for you when that even/information is uncovered or you are noted ad being evasive during the investigation, especially after the Subject interview. I ask my Subjects if there is anything else they should tell me at the end of the Subject interview. I explain that surprising the background investigator is rarely a good thing. Yet, I still often find surprises after the Subject interview…Don’t be that Subject.


@backgdinvestigator, this is a good stuff… vert informative and should be bookmarked on top of this discussion forum.

I am not sure if it is relevant, but everyone should know that there are multiple background investigators working on the subject’s file. So, we shouldn’t ask nor should we expect an investigator to tell us when our investigation is closed because they don’t know. I thought it is worth of a mentioning.


Very good point and one I try to mention whenever someone posts “my investigator said the case should close soon” or “my investigator saw no problems in my case”.

Only the reviewer (the case analyst that puts all the reports together before sending the final report to the adjudicator) and the adjudicators see the entire report. The field investigators only know about the parts they are involved and any parts they might need to know to gather information from the Subject or from field sources.

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@backgdinvestigator, you brought a good point. However the question is when i request my BI records through FOIA, would i receive reviewer side of compiled story or data and information collected by Investigators ?

I am going to request my BI records just to see what is in there which is making adjudicator take 6 months to take a decision on my closed investigation for TS.

Two of my coworkers who filed for TS got their TS in 7 months. I am stuck in adj for 6 months now.

My personal experience is you only receive the report of investigation with a few other NBIB attached documents. NBIB FOIA can only release their documents.

I have not requested my information from OPM/DOD since the early 2000’s… and that was just for curiosity more than anything else.

I was reading the investigators responsibilities i believe and in there i didn’t see anything about them interjecting their opinions which seemed to be all over my eQIP results. And what would you say about having 2 interviews with 2 separate investigators with neither one wanting to discuss the fact I had open warrants for my arrest in another state ???

We don’t express opinions in your report. The reviewer(s) specifically has any opinions removed in the NBIB process.

As for the two separate investigators not wanting to discuss your open warrants - they may have been instructed not to discuss that issue by the agency.

Did you volunteer the open warrants information to the two investigators? Then they should have discussed them. Be mindful, having open warrants is rarely helpful to your cause in an investigation.


Funny . . . When I went for my interview, the investigator asked, “What you like to tell me about the warrant for your arrest issued in December 2015?”

I had completely forgotten about the issue. I had a rental property and there was a housing code violation for not clearing snow. The tenant was responsible by the lease but the township came after me. But, they sent the violation notice to the rental property not to my home and I never received it. As soon as I found out, I went to the court clerk and took care of it. So, I explained all of this to the investigator and she said she would be in that town the next day and would check it out but she doubted that it would be a problem.

The next she called me from the court house and said that I needed to get there ASAP. There were a total of FIVE warrants for my arrest going back to 2011! This was February 2017.

I went that afternoon and discovered that ALL five were the result of the same problem. The township inspector was sending the notices to the property despite my rental license which included my home address. I went to court a few days later and all of the charges were dismissed and the warrant rescinded. I let the investigator know that it was taken care of. It was mentioned in her report and I DID receive an SOR about 6 months later but the warrants were not an issue.

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Now that seems somewhat fishy on part of the investigator. The investigator is not permitted to discuss any information found during the investigation with the subject. This can only be disclosed through the Freedom of Information Act via formal request for a copy of your investigation. If it happened the way you explained it, it would be a breach of integrity on the part of the investigator.

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It’s not true at all that an investigator can’t discuss information found during the investigation. In fact, that’s down right silly. Investigators are assigned to fully flesh out what they find, how would they do so without discussing it with the subject?

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Thanks for the helpful information. So it sounds like the background investigator cannot overrule an adjudicator? What if an applicant for a Moderate Risk Public Trust has circumstances that may be disqualifying under the 13 adjudicative guidelines (AG) for security clearances, but NOT disqualifying under the 8 or so suitability criteria? And the applicant’s agency uses suitability factors, not the 13 AG, for Moderate Risk Public Trust positions.

In the FOIA is all of your SF86 ever filed, write ups on you, friends, and coworkers. If there are more leads then those references are included as well. There are summary sheets with codes which you have to look up. If there are “Issues” then it will state that there are “Issues” on the summary sheet. This isn’t all bad stuff, just that there is some sort of discrepancy that required an explanation. It can be as simple as a difference in what the subject provided for dates and what an authoritative entity has on file on you. It all has to be explained. Mine was over 300 pages. Took more than a month to receive. There may be redactions in the report too.

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I would be happy to show anyone my investigation results and explain to me what i am reading if they were not opinions, along with so many inaccuracies, it was ridiculous. An incident i told him about was on two different pages reported two different ways , WHAT ? Oh and I also learned through his report that i have a cousin from Raytown named PJ Picket. I have never uttered said name before in my life. And if he was my cousin it was news to me. In my experience thus far I have been the only recipient of an investigator so unprofessional. I’ve spoken to possibly hundreds of people and never heard anything even remotely close. And about the open warrants that I had, in my opinion they were a huge elephant in the room that were ignored. Also in my opinion my humble opinion they were ignored because that meant more work to these two investigators who clearly wanted to get me in the books so they could get paid. Open warrants just reek of more work and time isn’t that true? And although it may be a rumor that they get paid more for more cases ran through I think that’s a ridiculous way to handle them , to pay them to get more through if in fact that is true. Regardless of any of that I am assured by the judge hearing my administrative review hearing that none of that will play A Part in my final hearing coming up in about a week and a half. And I believe him.

The only issues that should be discussed in your hearing are those in the SOR. The only way that other information can be entered into evidence is if YOU open the door.

Produce a defense of each item on the SOR, in order. Refer to the mitigating factors in the AG for that item and then explain how those mitigating factors apply to your issue.

In both your opening and your closing, use a phrase like, “Therefore, it IS clearly in the national interest to allow me access to classified information” and ASK THE JUDGE TO RULE IN YOUR FAVOR. Whenever you make an argument, be sure to ask for the thing that you want.

What seemed to be redacted, out of curiosity?

FinCEN and FBI FOIA exempt items.

OK let me clarify…The initial subject interview was the chance for you to come clean on an open warrant that the investigator was already privy to. You should be given the chance to volunteer the information by asking the appropriate question from the SF86. Once that initial subject interview is conducted, it is highly inappropriate for an investigator to recontact you and tell you of their findings and instruct you in any manner to come to the court house. Unless this was another investigation outside of the SF86/SF85P background investigation, it is not SOP.

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You can’t come clean on something that you didn’t know about. While I had simply put the first out of my mind and didn’t even think of it when filling out the SF86, I was completely unaware of the others until the investigator uncovered them.

So . . . Let’s say that she didn’t tell me when she discovered them. I suspect that she would have re-interviewed me and challenged me with the “discovery”. Then, I would have gone to the court house and resolved the issue.

I’m not sure why you think that the interview/investigation process needs to be adversarial.

Not adversarial, just very methodical and procedural. Initial interview with developed information. Chance is given to answer question. If negative response, then developed information is put forth. The developed information is discussed. This is during subject interview. After interview, it is not permitted to recontact with information found in field after the subject interview. It is possible that there will be a second interview, but the investigator does not control that, nor can he/she take control of that. If it is determined to warrant a second interview, that decision is made from individuals other than the investigator.

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That would have happened after a couple of general questions to give you the chance to volunteer the information.

If you didn’t know, you didn’t know - the investigator is still there to gather the information for the adjudicator. Then the investigators gather the additional information to corroborate your story - or not. Nothing personal, just what we do