Services
Security Clearance Requirements

​Security Clearances Requirements for Individuals in National Security/Sensitive Positions 


Need for Security Clearances

Security clearances are based on an individual’s position and their need to access materials, attend meetings, and/or have access to areas that require a security clearance.  Security clearances are determined and granted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  If your position changes throughout your NIH career and a security clearance is no longer needed contact our office: orspersonnelsecurity@mail.nih.gov.

Requirements

1.   Tier 3 or Tier 5 Background Investigation

  • The AO will be responsible for ensuring NED reflects the correct position designation level for the position, as well as providing a justification in NED that supports the need for security clearance.  The justification must include the level clearance being requested.

  1. Tier 3 = Secret 
  2. Tier 5 = Top Secret
  3. Tier 5+ = Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI)

*The need for SCI clearance is very rare, and to meet this requirement theemployee would need to use this security clearance on a monthly (or more often) basis

**Tier 3 investigations more often thannot do not require a security clearance (i.e. Select Agent and Biosurety Programs)

2.   Position Description (PD) OR equivalent (T42 package) – FTEs are either on a PD or are under a Title 42
      designation

  • The PD will need to include the need for the clearance and the level being requested
  • The position on the title should match what is listed on the HHS 207 and OF-8 (see below)
  • T42 packages will need to include the position duties and the need for the clearance level being requested (salary information can be redacted)
  • T42 packages need to be complete and signed by OHR, however they do no require an OF-8

3.   Optional Form 8 (OF-8) – The OF-8 Should reflect sensitivity level 2, 3, or 4 (based on the level of security
      clearance needed):

  • Box 1     –- Agency Position No.
  • Box 12   –- 2-Noncritical Sensitive = Secret, 3-Critical = Top Secret, 4-Special Sensitive = Sensitive
                       Compartmented Information (SCI)
  • Box 16   –- if applicable
  • Box 17   –- Employee Name – cannot be listed as vacant
  • Box 20   –- Supervisor’s Name, Title and Signature
  • Box 21   –- OHR’s Name, Title and Signature

The following items must be complete when submitting the form or it will not be accepted by OSSI/HHS

Your HHS-207 (Request for Security Clearance)

The justification should include the following items to support the request:

  • The level of clearance needed
  • The duties being performed to support the need for clearance
  • The justification cannot be written in first person 

Please note: The Department  of Health and Human Services (HHS-207) clearance justification statement must specifically explain the need for access to classified national security information and the highest level of access required, and this must be filled out by the program office/OHR and signed by the employee and supervisor.

Important:

  • Security clearances are not granted to Foreign Nationals or Contractors (in most cases) at NIH/Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). 
  • Security clearances are not granted until the Tier 3 or 5 level investigation is complete and favorably adjudicated.  This process is lengthy and your office should plan accordingly.  The current average OPM processing time for a Tier 3/5 investigation from submission to being closed complete is 163 days for a Tier 3 and 383 days for a Tier 5.
  • Security clearances are not transferrable across agencies. For example, if you held a security clearance at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) prior to coming to NIH the security clearance will not transfer to NIH.  Likewise, if you hold a security clearance for your position at NIH it will not transfer to another agency when you leave.  The security clearance is specific for the position you hold at NIH.  If had had a security clearance prior to coming to NIH then the process generally takes less time to process.

Periodic Reinvestigations 

Foreign Summer Students will be processed through the Division of International Services (DIS); however, they too will undergo a fingerprint check. For more information, please contact the Division of International Services (DIS).

  • Tier 3 = every 10 years
  • Tier 5 = every 7 years
  • Tier 5+ = every 5 years

No longer need your security clearance?

Contact ORSpersonnelsecurity@mail.nih.gov. We will schedule a time for you to be debriefed.



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