When completing the questionnaire., for CONFIDENTIAL, and SECRET Clearances, it's necessary to provide information for the previous five years. For TOP SECRET Clearances, one must provide information for the previous ten years. It's important to note here that giving false information on a Security Document constitutes a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 101, and Article 107 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Under the United States Code, one may be fined, and imprisoned for a period of five years. Under the UCMJ, the maximum punishment includes reduction to the lowest enlisted grade, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, confinement for a period of five years, and a dishonorable discharge.
You should be aware that answering all of the questions on the SF86 accurately is very important, because it is taken as evidence of your reliability and honesty. Indeed, if your clearance would not otherwise be denied, it could still be denied if it is discovered that you attempted to conceal information about yourself. It is also possible that even if your clearance were granted, it could later be revoked if dishonesty on the forms is later discovered.
If you realize after you have handed in the form that you have inadvertently made a mistake or omitted something important, please tell your Security Officer, Recruiter, MEPS Security Interviewer, or the DSS Investigator when you are interviewed. If you do not do so, the error or omission could be held against you during the adjudicative process.
You may wish to note that page 10 of the SF-86 contains a statement which you sign authorizing release of ANY information about you to Security Clearance Investigators. This means that investigators can access any and all information about you, including sealed records, juvenile records, expunged records, and medical records.
Once you complete the ESPQ, the document is sent to the Defense Security Service (DSS). DSS is responsible to verify the information and perform the actual background investigation. The level of investigation depends upon the level of access to be granted.
For CONFIDENTIAL and SECRET Clearances:
- A National Agency Check (NAC)-A computerized search of investigative files and other records held by federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
- A Local Agency Check (LAC)-A review of appropriate criminal history records held by local law enforcement agencies, such as police departments or sheriffs, with jurisdiction over the areas where you have resided, gone to school, or worked.
- Financial checks - A review of your Credit Record.
For Top Secret Clearances, a Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI) is performed which includes all of the above, plus:
- Field interviews of references to include coworkers, employers, personal friends, educators, neighbors, and other appropriate individuals.
- Checks of records held by employers, courts, and rental offices.
- A subject interview - An interview with you by an investigator.
These inquiries are performed by one or more investigators who work in the geographic area where the information is to be obtained. NACs, however, may be performed electronically from a central location. DSS uses two types of investigators to conduct these investigations; DSS Agents and Contractors (Private Detective Agencies).