Tier 5 And TS/SCI

I passed a Tier 5 investigation as of 31 May 2018 and was granted a clearance. I have been working (as a contractor) in a straight SECRET billet since then. I am now looking at changing jobs and the new position requires TS/SCI. My question is, what will it take for my new security manager to get my clearance upgraded to TS/SCI since I already have an active Tier 5?

That’s an interesting question and I’m anxious to hear what others have to say.

I think it will depend on a lot of factors, mainly what the end customer will have to say about it. I’ve heard of people with a TS getting upgraded to add SCI access fairly quickly, but not S->TS/SCI

Staying in your current Agency with a current Tier 5, the SCI might require an SF86C (basically updates information since your last submission) and the SCI organization to adjudicate your clearance/new access. The Tier 5 is the key, not the clearance used from the Tier 5.

Jumping Agencies would be a different process which gets the tired old response “it depends…”

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I am a little confused about you getting Secret from T5. Secret is typically from T3, T5 is TS. Why would you be put through T5 just to get Secret?

That’s the beauty of tiered investigations… nobody can understand it.

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The Tier 5 is tied to high risk, critical sensitive positions - not all require a security clearance. The Tier 5 is the minimum background investigation required for the TS/SCI/Q clearances - which are all designated critical sensitive positions.

The reduction from dozens of background investigation types started long before the Tier system. I remember having to do PT-SSBIs (which did not qualify you for a Confidential clearances let alone a TS), SSBIs, BIs, MBIs, LBIs, PRIs, etc. Then you had the SSBI with SCI expansion, SSBI with investigator/law enforcement expansion, SSBI for DoD, SSBI with DOE expansion. (and others)

Someone high enough up the food chain finally figured out why agencies would not accept each other adjudications and started figuring out what was really needed for most positions.

The case types were combined and whittled down and eventually in 2012 we got the new investigative standards that in 2015 gave us the current Tier system.

Rumor has the five tiers being reduced to three tiers - most likely combing (just my guess from the pyramid bottom) Tier 1/2 and Tier 4/5 and leaving Tier 3 the initial high risk case type.

Last note: the reduction in case types helps field work tremendously as the agents don’t have to worry about overworking cases needlessly. My hope is in the future the ODNI and Suitability official decide on just one input form - the SF85, SF86, or a new combined form.

What’s the difference between 85 and 86 in terms of scope and info?

The difference is in the forms. 85 asks for 5 years on employment and places lived as opposed to 10 on 86. The 86 is obviously more in-depth on financial section, compared to 85. 85 is non-sensitive, 86 is national security. Read through the questionnaires section by section, and the differences are readily apparent as to scope.

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It is a rather straightforward process to have your clearance upgraded if you already have the proper investigation on file. Once the TS is granted then the SCI granting agency will process whatever they need for the SCI access portion of it. As some others mentioned, an SF-86C and additional releases are standard.

Also, a Tier 5 is normally completed for TS, but some Secret positions that are also designated with high risk public trust duties also have to have a Tier 5.

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I was originally put in for just straight SECRET. About 6 months later, I contemplated taking a different job with a different contractor which required TS/Tier 5. I initially accepted the position and then my original employer offered me a deal "too good to refuse" and I stayed with them. They decided to go ahead and allow my clearance to continue as a Tier 5 because they were anticipating some new positions that would require it. That never materialized so I remained in the same (SECRET) billet, but my investigation was concluded on 31 May 2018 as a Tier 5. I am in the DISS as "TS under continual adjudication."

You have TS/SCI ELIGIBILTY even though you currently just have Secret ACCESS. You are good! Your new employer will upgrade your ACCESS to TS/SCI since DoDCAF has granted you TS/SCI ELIGIBILTY already… click of a mouse and new signed NDA…

I’m fairly sure that in the k-129 book, the author details how the CIA at the time started doing “whole person” decisions for the project to get the most secure people with the highest knowledge. It was one of the first time they used that criteria. They even overlooked some MJ at the time (a huge deal at the time, as big as hard drugs are now), but the guy running the project had the pull to make it happen. I could be mistaken though, but it was an interesting read.


I hope you are right. My new/potential employer has submitted an SCI adjudication based upon my current status in DISS showing the following: Top Secret adjudication completed with a determination of Favorable on 2018-06-11. Hopefully the SCI adjudication will come back pretty quickly. Anyone have any idea of a timeline for this sort of thing right now?