The never ending use of the telephone

Is anyone laughing with me in disgust when they hear from these government agencies like DCSA, DHS, and now the State Department when they say that the use of the telephone to conduct Subject, source, and record interviews provides the same amount of quality as do in person interviews?

We used to be eviscerated as Investigators when we conducted a telephone interview up until DCSA decided they could do phone interviews for TESI’s and now phone interviews can be conducted ad naseum without any approval whatsoever and now you are eviscerated if you do a interview in person instead of by telephone.

I find these policies to be hypocritical, dangerous, and shows a total disregard for the quality of the investigative product.

This industry is an upside down world like much of society is currently.


In the past we would have been terminated for subject interviews by phone but now its approved. My guess is we’re never going back to the field because they’re saving money on expenses and caaes are being expedited due to no driving. Talking on the phone all day and not having to directly interact during story time is fine with me.

1 Like

At the end of the day though, wouldn’t it be the customers who make the call? If they’re paying thousands of dollars for their people to be cleared, wouldn’t they want DCSA to get off their butts and do it in person? If everything is done by phone moving forward, the security specialists could essentially do it themselves in theory

DCSA has lowered the costs for individual security clearance each year we’ve existed. Just a statement - someone is getting something cheaper.

I am a Western US investigator and hope we keep the Subject interview video option and telephone Source interviews as an option/tool. I’ve not seen any drop in my C/D issue rate - interviewing and listening is still a skill.

I do find trying to do RESIs. EDUCs, and EMPLs very difficult by telephone but not impossible. I hope we can keep the video/telephon as a tool, versus me driving 4.5 round trip, not including the fieldwork, for simple Sources/TESIs. I do hope we can do the major areas in person again because it is very hard for someone to blow off an in person visit (versus numerous emails/voice mails).

The video/telephone work is here to stay. We were slowly being dragged into modernizing the process under NBIB then COVID under DCSA has proven it works for the most part. Also, industry and the military were pushing for video Subject interviews long before DCSA was created.

I am not fan of the telephone interview for serious issue TESIs but that just a personal preference. I am a fan of having the video and telephone as a tool for metto complete cases without having to follow a ridiculous matrix created by people who understand the mechanics of the process (well, might understand but normally mean well) but never had to complete any field work since 2007 deciding when i can or can’t use tools to complete a case.

1 Like

The old saying is you get what you pay for.

1 Like

We’ve been allowed to do simple TESI’s by phone for several years even before COVID. If there’s multiple serious issues I don’t do (TESIs or ESI’s) them by phone. VTC is supposably equivalent to in person but I don’t agree. I believe Subject’s who have multiple serious issues with a clearance or attempting to get a clearance need to sit in front of someone and explain themselves and feel the “discomfort” of doing so.

1 Like

Yet my point still stands…the quality of the investigative product lowers and lessens as we continue to conduct interviews by phone. VTC’s are a little better and there is a time and place for those depending upon the circumstances. Yet, DCSA does all of their record and source interviews by phone/fax. So many things are slipping through the cracks. Relying upon record providers to provide us all of the record information by phone/fax instead of reviewing the actual personnel file physically is a travesty of epic proportions.


I agree the Records by phone, especially since even the “trusted workforce” employers try to only provide start/end dates and ft/pt status, are failing the program. We don’t get the developed information. Personal sources i don’t see that much difference other than the Sources like to stay on longer than in person.

The military recruiting command and the defense industry, though specially named as critical “trusted agents” don’t have security high on their priority list. This is the weak link in the trusted workforce 2.0 program. (sorry for the redirect but these concerns all intersect here.)

1 Like

It goes without saying in-person Subject interviews are better, Source interviews are better, and to a degree record checks are better. If only to give a more serious look to the whole process.

That said, I think the reason there could still be a phone-only policy in BIs has to do with many companies and government agencies still having a good percentage of their employees working remotely. A few people I know working for government agencies in D.C. are still working remotely. Same with some people I know who work for DoD contractors. If even 20% of the employees of government or private companies involved in cleared work are working remotely— which we’ve seen have wildly varying and changing policies for in-person work— it would be such a headache that the only solution is phone interviews.

Additionally, complicating matters and probably necessitating phone interviews, many of the meeting places where you used to conduct personal interviews—other than a job location or residence—are no longer widely available (e.g., libraries/library study rooms). So acphone seems like a better option than, let say, masking up and doing an ESI at a fast food place.

1 Like

Has someone said this yet…it’s COVID.

1 Like

If DCSA is ever going back to in person work then I would imagine it would be starting soon, most states are lifting mask mandates and restrictions.


They’re not going back in person unless as a last resort. The amount of money they must be saving, I imagine, has made this permanent.


Yesterday I had an Investigator at my door (no mask) doing a BI for a neighbor applying to be a Records Clerk at a local PD in CA. Had to chuckle seeing him beating the street for a Records Clerk position while i sit home calling people for “national security.”


@RB22 oh…the irony of the whole situation blows my mind how the use of the telephone is the norm and going in person is frowned upon. DCSA is a :clown_face: show…


As a reviewer, I find it ridiculous that the investigators have not been permitted to go back to in person interviews. At this point, the covid scamdemic should no longer be an excuse. But I’m sure the money being saved making you do everything over the phone is happily padding the pockets of those running the clown show.


Its getting embarrassing.

Years ago an investigator called me for a reference on someone. I remember commenting that it was the first time I had done something like that over the phone; he said something like he could only do it over the phone because I was not one of the main sources or he was just following up on some other lead. I’ve done a couple other since then.

I am totally fine with continuing sources and records by phone. I used to drive 45 minutes just to speak to someone for 15 minutes and that is a waste of time. I’ve also found sources are more cooperative by phone.

I do wish in-person ESIs and TESIs would return.


Total waste of time to interview people in person or review a personnel file in person? Most of the people I speak to are still appreciative when I do the interviews in person and they advise me that they feel more comfortable sharing me information about the Subject in person vs. if I called by phone. People advise me they are much less reluctant to share information by telephone with me versus if the interview is done in person.

In person= higher quality of investigations.

This much cannot be disputed.

1 Like

Yes, driving over an hour to interview personal references and reviewing records is a complete waste of time IMO of course.