Uncooperative Subjects

I’m a new investigator and I’m hoping for a bit of insight: When I call a Subject to set up an interview, many seem confused and oblivious as to their own background investigation. First of all, how is it even possible to forget filling out a 60 page document that can take 24 hours (or more) of your life to complete? How does one not know they need a clearance for their job? I can understand why this might be for new military recruits but can’t figure out why the rest are utterly dumbfounded.Many are suspicious and uncooperative. Even after I give them my badge # and phone # for verification of my identity. Frankly, I have little patience for this. Especially given the number of people who would be more than happy to fill their time slot. Any insight into why this happens and how best to deal with it would be appreciated.


From their perspective, most likely they were just offered a job, told it requires a clearance, submitted the application, but not told what the investigation would entail. Perhaps when you make the initial contact you could provide a few reminders like…on this date your employer (fill in the blank) submitted a background investigation request on you for a XX clearance. The next question should be…do you still need the clearance or shall I cancel the investigation? If they do need the clearance to keep their job, that usually will catch their attention.


What Marko said.

People don’t understand they actually are being investigated, or that an interview might be a necessity. This is especially true for lower level case types and older cases. Plus you’re just some random person on a telephone calling about some documents he/she filled out almost a year ago that they probably have a vague recollection of. Need to understand that to a lot of people, it’s just some papers they filled out.

If they’re still skeptical, take it up with the employer or straight up tell them to speak to their security point of contact for clarification. You can also attempt to speak to that security office yourself–that usually does the trick.

I would NOT ask if they still need the investigation! They may not understand what saying “no” might mean to them. Besides that the applicant isn’t the one who requested the investigation and they aren’t the one paying for it. Their prospective employer made the request and it is their responsibility to ensure that they still have a position for the aplicant and that the applicant is still interested in position.

Keep in mind that many people, when they are out of work, just graduating college or even just looking for a job, may apply for a position that turns out to require a clearance. Some of these people will be offered a position, fill out an SF86 and then be told that they can’t start until the government says so. They then go on with their job search and their lives. Perhaps they find another job two weeks after filling out their SF86 and they go to work forgetting about ALL of the other applications that they filled out. Then, six? Eight? Twelve months later, or even more in some cases, they get a phone call from some guy who says he is an investigator and needs to confirm or ask for a bunch of personal information.

In short . . . Not everybody whose file shows up on your desk has had this process explained to them at all much less in any detail. I suspect that this is just going to be one of the things that you will need to deal with. I wouldn’t refer to them as “uncooperative” . . . Maybe, “less than knowledgeable” would work better.

As you read through this forum, one of the things that you will discover is that, as applicants, we are able to get almost no information about what is going on behind the curtains. In many cases, it is literally ZERO information. So, a phone call, eight months later, can come as a complete surprise.


When I joined the Army(2004), I didn’t even know I had a clearance until years after I got out. When I went to the Military Entrance Processing Station (Meps), I don’t remember ever being told anything about a clearance. I even put on a future SF86 that I never had a clearance. So that might explain why some new recruits are taken back by a phone call from an investigator.

Too many horror stories about new recruits being put in for clearances and getting bad info from recruiters! I don’t know if it is still possible with eQIP but some recruiters would fill out the SF-86 (or the old 398) for the recruit and have them sign it. Yow!

That is probably what happened in my scenario because I don’t ever remember filling out a packet anything like a SF86. At that time(2004) they were trying to get as many people over to Iraq as quickly as possible so i’m sure plenty of people got pushed through that probably shouldn’t have.

Still the case. Nightmare. They do a handwritten packet from DSS that gets turned in. At least from what I’ve seen.

You need to learn to deal with it or find a new job. This is our life as investigators. We face headwinds on every single task of our job and no one cares or does anything about it. This is just the way of life. Expect unrelenting resistance from subjects, sources, record providers, your supervisor, reviewers, upper management, traffic, parking, NBIB, and any computer system that you need to use to perform your job. Each step along the way you will be faced with a soul crushing resistance that will leave you exhausted and confused as to why it has to be so hard and why stick it out. I know I stick it out because I believe the mission is important and I am also just too tired to look for a new job. I chuckle when watching the people “in-charge” on c-span explain how things will work. They are completely oblivious that the entire system is set up to fail. The backlog was not caused by the USIS debacle, it was caused by regulations and investigative requirements that create work efforts and tasks that are not easily measurable in the current production based environment. Also, it doesn’t matter which contractor you work for or if you are a SA - they all suck equally. ■■■■ flows down hill and we are at the very bottom. Its our job to cover everyone else’s behind and that ain’t easy. In the process don’t forget to CYA as well. Godspeed

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The recruiters job is to recruit and that’s what they do. The EQIP stands in the way of this because everyone hates filling it out. They usually list the adjudicative infractions but I find they never list a correct and complete resi, educ, and empl history. They also typically downplay any foreign contacts as well.

ESI turns into an admin mess, and the cycle continues

You ain’t just whistling dixie.

I always inform our applicants to make sure their references are aware an investigator may call. I also tell them once contacted by their investigator if they are unclear or suspicious, contact me and I will verify the name of their investigator. Anything to put them at ease and help the transition to cleared employee. My company provides a large amount of entry level labor: grasscutters, housekeepers, monitors etc. I totally understand what you speak of.


Wow, thanks for the insight. Much appreciated! I was previously a fraud investigator at a law firm and so, this is markedly different. My education/background is 100% legal. That is, until I found out the firm’s investigative unit was far more fun! Basically, I discovered something I love to do for the first time in my life and there is no turning back. On the whole, I enjoy the job. I enjoy meeting people that I’d otherwise never have the opportunity to meet, deciding which days to go out in the field and when I want to be a hermit and type reports. Its challenging and no two days are ever the same. I have been doing backgrounds for about a year and by and large, the people I deal with are very reasonable and approachable. I’m just trying to understand the various nuances of the job-Which is why I inquire. Much of my day is spent thinking/asking ‘What the hell? ,why for?, and come again?’ Admittedly, I simply have no clue about backgrounds and there seems to be an endless amount of ever-changing information to learn. @discrepant - You’re right, it may be that this area of investigation doesn’t suit me. I have a limited tolerance bs…But more so on the ‘corporate level’. I am endlessly patient with the kiddos joining the military - (so full of hope/dreams and themselves-Lol!) What I don’t care for is the sales/production model of management, inclusive of regular beatings and ‘you-suck-at-everything’ emails. Not only because it’s so completely wrong and ineffective but more importantly, it is absolutely counter to the nature of work we are entrusted with. The work is important, complex and merits thoughtful analysis and attention to detail. By nature, an investigation done properly, takes time. I struggle with this dichotomy daily. I know that over time, I will become more efficient. However, I’m not sure this is going to be enough. I sense relinquishing one’s integrity to meet qouta is expected (at least with my employer). ANYWAY, major digression…Thanks again all! I have really enjoyed reading this forum and have benefitted greatly because of your willingness to share (despite differences). Most of all, I truly love your passion for this profession!


This is the story of my life.

I’ve have had some considerably difficult subjects in my time. I just match their difficulty by being really stern with them. They give me a hard time, I talk to the supervisor, the security manager or the commander.

It’s really the only way to go about it. Being in the northeast in a major metro area, people aren’t friendly. No one has time for your BS and they have an agenda to adhere to. Just need to reciprocate and escalate (professionally).

post editing for post editing

Bending your integrity to reach a quota or other goal is exactly what you are trying to make certain that those you are investigating will not do!

It’s quite possible that these new applicants simply had no real idea as to just what the BI process entailed.

Way back, when I first started applying for IC jobs requiring TS clearances, I certainly had no idea what was involved in the application cycle. I just assumed that they would contact a few references and check police records, and maybe question the applicant about any travel to Communist countries (my experience dates back to the late Cold War period). I was certainly overwhelmed and flustered by the whole process, which has only multiplied in scope and length since those days, the end of the Cold War a decade later notwithstanding.

The same may well likely be true of first-time applicants today.

My best advice is to contact your senator or state rep to help move the process along. Prepare to wait and WAIT!