What is a security clearance?

A security clearance is a determination by the United States Government that a person or company is eligible for access to classified information. The term “eligibility for access” means the same thing as security clearance and appears in some Government record systems. There are multiple agencies of the government that require security clearances. Here at DTSI we work with the Department of Defense and they issue about 80% of security clearance across the country. Some other agencies that require security clearances are the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy (DoE), the Department of Justice, and the Central Intelligence Agency.

What are the security clearance levels?

  • Confidential– Allows access to information that could be expected to cause damage to the national security if disclosed to unauthorized sources. It is the most basic level of clearance. This level needs to be reinvestigated every 15 years.
  • Secret– Allows access to information that reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security if disclosed to unauthorized sources. Secret clearances are reinvestigated every 10 years.
  • Top Secret– Allow access to information that reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security if disclosed to unauthorized sources. They are reinvestigated every 5 years.

Qualifications for a Security Clearance?

To apply for a Security Clearance you will need to complete a Standard Form (SF) 86 Questionnaire for a National Security Position. The SF 86 asks questions about your:

  • Place of birth
  • Foreign contacts, activities, travel
  • Other names used
  • Psychological and emotional health
  • Citizenship information
  • Police Record
  • Past residences
  • Illegal use of drugs and drug activity
  • Where you went school
  • Use of alcohol
  • Previous employment locations & record
  • Investigation and clearance record
  • Selective Service Record
  • Financial record
  • Military history
  • Use of information technology systems
  • References
  • Involvement in Non-Criminal court actions
  • Marital status
  • Association Record
  • Relatives

The information provided should go back 7 years and in some cases 10 years. Click here to for more information.

Background Investigations

The following are the three levels of investigations for Government facility access and security clearances:

  • Tier 1 Investigation (T1) formerly National Agency Check and Inquiries (NACI) this is the basic and minimum investigation required on all new Federal employees and many contractors. It consists of a NAC with written inquiries and searches of records covering specific areas of a person’s background during the past five years. Those inquiries are sent to current and past employers, schools attended, references, and local law enforcement authorities.
  • Tier 3 Investigation (T3) formerly National Agency Check with Local Agency Check and Credit (NACLC) designed as the initial investigation for contractors at the Confidential and Secret national security access levels. The T3R is used to meet the reinvestigation requirement for all individuals (including contractors) who have Confidential or Secret clearances.
  • Tier 5 Investigation (T5) formerly Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI) this is the government-wide investigation required of those who need access to Top Secret classified national security information. This background investigation covers the past seven years of the subject’s activities (or to age 18, whichever is less). It includes verification of citizenship and date and place of birth, and well as national agency records checks on the subject‘s spouse or cohabitant, interviews with selected references and former spouses. This type of investigations are for individuals who have Top Secret clearances.
Clearances Banner