所有联邦就业背景调查旨在确保受雇于政府工作的每个人“可靠、值得信赖、品行良好且 特点， 并忠于美国。” 在基本层面上，这些背景调查通常包括 犯罪历史调查 和 信用历史调查。
机密和秘密安全许可的默认背景调查称为“第 3 层”调查。这项调查的主要部分是国家机构检查 (NAC)，这是所有安全许可背景调查的标准。它查看以前政府调查的结果，以及 FBI 指纹犯罪历史数据库。根据职位的性质，其他类型的联邦机构背景调查可能是 NAC 的一部分。
Tier 3 调查的其他检查包括针对男性候选人的选择性服务注册验证、工作历史检查、居住历史检查、教育验证、信用历史检查以及候选人曾经居住、工作或上学的任何地方的当地执法背景调查。
竞选绝密安全许可的候选人必须经过“第 5 层”调查。这些调查基本上包含了第 3 层调查的所有部分，但添加了持续评估 (CE)。行政长官在调查期间随机重新检查政府工作人员。这些自动检查会查看从犯罪历史到财务信息（留置权、破产等）和信用检查的所有内容。CE 筛选还包括检查员工的社交媒体资料（如果这些资料可公开访问）。
在背景调查方面，一级与下一级的主要区别在于安全许可保持有效的时间。例如，机密安全许可的有效期为 15 年。绝密许可的有效期只有五年，之后背景调查过程必须重新开始。秘密安全许可有效期为 10 年。
All federal employment background checks are designed to make sure each person hired to a government job is “reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and loyal to the United States.” At a basic level, these background checks usually include criminal history searches and credit history checks.
If the position does involve access to sensitive or confidential information, then the person being hired must also obtain a government security clearance. All security clearances require additional checks that may include interviews with spouses, roommates, neighbors, friends, work colleagues, family members, or acquaintances.
There are three levels of security clearance that may be required for a federal government job: Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. The depth, length, and details of a government background check will vary depending on the level of security clearance as well as the requirements of the job.
The default background investigation for Confidential and Secret security clearances is known as a “Tier 3” investigation. The main part of this investigation is a National Agency Check (NAC), which is standard for all security clearance background checks. It looks at results from previous government investigations, as well as the FBI fingerprint criminal history database. Other types of federal agency background checks may be part of the NAC depending on the nature of the position.
Other checks for the Tier 3 investigation include selective service registration verifications for male candidates, employment history checks, residence history checks, educational verifications, credit history checks, and local law enforcement background checks anywhere the candidate ever lived, worked, or attended school.
Candidates in the running for Top Secret security clearances must go through “Tier 5” investigations. These investigations essentially incorporate all the pieces of Tier 3 investigations but with the Continuous Evaluation (CE) added. CE re-checks government workers randomly when they are in between investigations. These automated checks look at everything from criminal history to financial information (liens, bankruptcies, and the like) and credit checks. CE screenings also include checks of employees’ social media profiles if those profiles are publicly accessible.
In terms of background checks, the main difference from one tier to the next is the amount of time the security clearance remains valid. For instance, a Confidential security clearance lasts for 15 years. A Top Secret clearance is only good for five years, after which the background check process has to start over. Secret security clearances are valid for 10 years.
Because the federal government is such a vast entity, federal employment background checks can vary significantly from one job to the next. Not only will the job affect whether a candidate needs to have a security clearance or not, but it will also influence which convictions lead to disqualifications.
According to the Office of Personnel Management, which handles most background checks for federal jobs, each federal agency department or agency is responsible for deciding whether a person is suitable for a position. In other words, a conviction that might lead to a disqualification for one job—such as a DUI—might not be a deal-breaker for a different federal agency.
One of the most important things you can do if you are applying for a federal job is to be as truthful and honest as possible in all your responses. You will be asked to answer questions about past jobs, addresses, and more—often with dates. The more accurate you can be, the better.