Here you will find information on policies, procedures, and general reference information related to personnel security at DHS. This information is provided to aid DHS’s industry partners, as well as the general public, in navigating the personnel security landscape when doing business with DHS.
The documents on this page may not be fully accessible. If you encounter any issues accessing the content, and you need assistance, please contact your servicing security office.
The Department of Homeland Security strives for consistency across the enterprise when it comes to personnel security vetting policies and procedures. However, there are specific statutory or legal requirements that require DHS Components to operate in a unique manner. Specific questions can be addressed with your local security office or government point of contact.
The Anti-Border Corruption Act of 2010 requires U.S. Customs and Border Protection to administer polygraph examinations to all applicants for law enforcement positions with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to initiate all periodic background reinvestigations of certain law enforcement personnel, and for other purposes.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 applies to all correctional facilities, including prisons, jails, juvenile facilities, military and Indian country facilities, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities.
The Aviation and Transportation Security Act applies to individuals supporting aviation security efforts.
The Lautenberg Amendment impacts individuals in law enforcement positions as it prohibits anyone convicted of a domestic violence offense from possessing a firearm.
Information and Reference Materials
Here you will find general reference materials supporting the DHS personnel security, fitness, and suitability program.
This Instruction establishes procedures, program responsibilities, standards and reporting protocols for the Department of Homeland Security personnel security and suitability program.
This Quick Reference Guide is provided to assist in completing the SF86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions, using the Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) system.
This process overview is a product of the DHS Acquisition Innovations in Motion (AIiM) Acquisition Innovation Roundtable, which brought together Industry and government representatives to discuss the personnel security process.
Every DHS Component has its own Personnel Security office that serves the unique mission needs of the Component, and is responsible for ensuring that federal employees and contractors meet acceptable standards of character and conduct and that their employment or continued employment will not adversely affect the integrity or efficiency of the Federal service. When this process is applied to contractor employees, it is known as a fitness determination. This Fact Sheet describes the general procedures for vetting contractors at DHS. Topics covered in the Fact Sheet include:
- An overview of the Personnel Security process at DHS
- The adjudicative process from selection to final decision
- Factors and considerations used during the adjudicative decision making process
- Personnel security terminology
- A table with the Federal Investigative Standards broken down by position type, forms required, risk/clearance requirements, authorities, etc…
- Frequently Asked Questions
In an effort to streamline the fitness and on-boarding processes for contractors supporting DHS, and to support reasonable risk-based management determinations, contractors with an active final security clearance can be approved immediately for entry on duty (EOD) and commence working on a DHS contract under conditions outlined by the DHS Chief Security Officer. This document provides an overview of the expedited EOD process.
This Glossary of Terms is provided as a general reference regarding personnel security terms used at DHS.
This document provides a crosswalk of the current and former investigation names, the levels of background investigation, and specific paperwork required based on the risk/sensitivity level of a position.
Links to External Partners
Here you will find links to other Departments and Agencies involved in the security clearance and background investigation process. These sites are provided as general reference materials, and to provide up to date news impacting personnel security across the federal government.
The NCSC leads and supports the U.S. Government’s counterintelligence (CI) and security activities critical to protecting our nation; provides CI outreach to U.S. private sector entities at risk of foreign intelligence penetration; and issues public warnings regarding intelligence threats to the U.S. Additional information can be found via their website.
The Defense Vetting Directorate (DVD) is a newly established directorate of the Defense Security Service (DSS). The DVD will integrate the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) and the DoD Consolidated Adjudication Facility (DoD CAF) into the DSS as directed by legislative and presidential directives. Additional information can be found via their website.
Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) goals have been established to drive implementation of the President's Management Agenda (PMA) and tackle critical government-wide challenges that cut across agencies. The CAP goals provide the components of the Federal Government Performance Plan required by the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010, naming senior accountable officials and establishing concrete goals and trackable metrics to ensure public accountability for each of these goals. Additional information can be found via their website.
Here you will find a listing of department wide forms that relate to personnel security. Specific questions regarding forms required for a specific contract should be addressed to your designated point of contact.
DHS Form 11000-25, Contractor Fitness/Security Screening Request Form (Contact your Security POC)
This form is used by DHS federal employees to request that the Office of Security, Personnel Security Division perform the appropriate fitness screening on contract employees based on the risk levels of their position. The risk level is based on an overall assessment of the damage that an untrustworthy individual could cause to the efficiency or the integrity of DHS operations. When determining risk levels, program officials may compare the individual’s duties, responsibilities, and access with those of DHS federal employees in similar positions.
This is a DHS-specific non-disclosure agreement that covers Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII), Sensitive Security Information (SSI), and other Sensitive but Unclassified (SBU) Information.
The SF-86 is used by the United States Government in conducting background investigations, reinvestigations, and continuous evaluations of persons under consideration for, or retention of, national security positions as defined in 5 CFR 732, and for individuals requiring eligibility for access to classified information under Executive Order 12968. This form may also be used by agencies in determining whether a subject performing work for, or on behalf of, the Government under a contract should be deemed eligible for logical or physical access when the nature of the work to be performed is sensitive and could bring about an adverse effect on the national security. DHS uses the SF-86 to support Tier 3 and Tier 5 background investigations.
The SF-85P is used by the United States Government in conducting background investigations to develop information to show whether an individual is reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and loyal to the United States. The information provided on this form is confirmed during the investigation. DHS uses the SF-85P to support Tier 2 and Tier 4 background investigations.
The SF-85 is used by the United States Government in conducting background investigations to develop information to show whether an individual is reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and loyal to the United States. The information provided on this form is confirmed during the investigation. DHS uses the SF-85 to support Tier 1 background investigations.
The SF-312 is a non-disclosure agreement required under Executive Order 13292 to be signed by employees of the U.S. Federal Government or one of its contractors when they are granted a security clearance for access to classified information.
AUTHORITY: DHS collects information as part of the personnel security process pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 9397, as amended by EO 13478; EO 10450; EO 12968; EO 13381; EO 13467; EO 13488; EO 13526; EO 13764; EO 13869; 5 CFR 731; 5 CFR 732; 5 CFR 736; Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12; SEAD 2; SEAD 4; SEAD 5; SEAD 6; SEAD 7; 6 CFR part 115; and Intelligence Community Directive 704.
PURPOSE: DHS requests information from you to conduct and adjudicate your personnel security investigation. DHS also uses the information collected to process personnel security-related clearance actions, to record suitability determinations, to record whether security clearances are issued or denied, and to verify eligibility for access to classified information or assignment to a sensitive position. DHS may also use this information for adverse personnel actions such as removal from sensitive duties, removal from employment, denial to a restricted or sensitive area, and revocation of security clearance.
DISCLOSURE INFORMATION: The information you provide on the personnel security form, and information collected during an investigation, may be disclosed as permitted by the Privacy Act [5 U.S.C. 552a(b)], including pursuant to a routine use listed in the DHS/ALL-023 Personnel Security Management System of Records system of records notice, which is available at https://www.dhs.gov/system-records-notices-sorns. You will not receive prior notice of disclosures under a routine use.
CONSEQUENCES OF FAILURE TO PROVIDE INFORMATION: Providing this information is voluntary. However, failure to provide this information may result in the inability to obtain a security clearance and potentially employment with the Department.