Services - Know Before You Go
Understanding U.S. Government Background Investigations


DPSAC processes are governed by federal regulations. The U.S. Government conducts background investigations to determine if applicants or employees meet the suitability/fitness requirements for employment, or are eligible for access to federal facilities, automated systems, or classified information.

An individual's investigative requirement is determined by the duties and responsibilities of their position and the associated degree of potential damage to the efficiency or integrity of the service or adverse effect on the national security from the misconduct of an incumbent of a position. This establishes the risk and sensitivity level of the position. DPSAC uses the OPM Position Designation Tool (PDAT) to ensure positions across NIH are properly designated. The PDAT tool ensures the correct investigative tier is selected for the individual based on their position description. Please visit our Investigation Requirements for Your Position page for more information.

For published Background Investigation Billing rates, please visit OPM Investigation Billing Rates under Resources.

Positive Sensitivity DesignationPosition Risk DesignationType of InvestigationForm Type
Special SensitiveHigh RiskTier5+SCISF 86
Critical SensitiveHigh RiskTier5SF 86
Non-Critical SensitiveHigh RiskTier5SF 86
Moderate RiskTier3SF 86
Non-Sensitive Public TrustHigh RiskTier4SF 85P
Moderate RiskTier2SF 85P
Non-SensitiveLow RiskTier1SF 85


Why We Do What We Do

  • Keeping NIH personnel, vendors, visitors, facilities, records, and resources safe by ensuring personnel are properly vetted and are suitable or fit to occupy the positions they are appointed to
  • Meeting Federal Regulations, Authorities and Directives from the Executive Office, Code of Federal Regulations, Homeland Security Presidential Directives, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA)