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Background Investigation Requests

A background investigation request must be initiated before OSY personnel, a federal employee, or a contractor, may enter on duty. These investigations fit into two categories—investigations for suitability and investigations for security clearances. OSY's Personnel Security Division adjudicates both types of investigations.

Investigations for Suitability

A suitability investigation is an inquiry into a person's identifiable character traits and conduct sufficient to make a determination whether an individual's employment or continued employment would or would not protect the integrity or promote the efficiency of the service. This type of investigation is for positions that are designated as low, moderate, or high-risk individuals. 

Investigations for Security Clearances 

A security clearance investigation is an in-depth inquiry into an individual's loyalty, character, trustworthiness, and reliability to ensure that he or she is eligible for access to national security information (NSI). Because certain positions in this category require access to NSI, security clearances are granted to those with a need to know. 

Once favorably adjudicated and based on their investigation type and need to know, an individual may be granted access to NSI at the Secret or Top-Secret level and, for individuals in positions designated as Special-Sensitive, Sensitive Compartmented Information.

[1] 35 U.S.C. §3(b)(5), “National security positions.—The [Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office], in consultation with the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, shall maintain a program for identifying national security positions and providing for appropriate security clearances, in order to maintain the secrecy of certain inventions, as described in section 181 [Secrecy of certain inventions and withholding of patent], and to prevent disclosure of sensitive and strategic information in the interest of national security.”