A Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI) is a type of United States security clearance investigation required for Top Secret, SCI Q access and TOP SECRET-level Controlled Access Programs; and involves investigators or agents interviewing past employers, coworkers and other individuals associated with the subject of the SSBI. It is governed by the U.S. Intelligence Community Policy Guidance Number 704.1. Standard elements include background checks of employment, education, organization affiliations and any local agency where the subject has lived, worked, traveled or attended school. These checks lead to interviews with persons who know the subject both personally and professionally. The investigation may include a National Agency Check with Local Agency Check and Credit Check (NACLC) of the subject's spouse or cohabitant. Previous background investigations conducted on the subject may also be reviewed to corroborate the information obtained or disclosed within the new SSBI.
- Minimum investigative scope. The period or scope of the investigation covers the past ten (10) years or to age 18, whichever is less.
- Expansion of Investigation. The investigation may be expanded as necessary, to resolve issues and/or address employment standards unique to individual agencies.
- National Agency Check. Checks on subject and spouse/cohabitant of investigative and criminal history files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, including submission of fingerprint records on the subject, and such other national agencies (DCII, INS, OPM, CIA, etc.) as appropriate to the individual's background.
- Subject Interview. Required in all cases and shall be conducted by trained security, investigative, or counterintelligence personnel to ensure full investigative coverage. An additional personal interview shall be conducted when necessary to resolve any significant information and/or inconsistencies developed during the investigation.
- Birth. Independent certification of date and place of birth received directly from appropriate registration authority.
- Citizenship. Subject must be a U.S. citizen. Independent verification of citizenship received directly from appropriate registration authority. For foreign-born immediate family members, verification of citizenship or legal status is also required.
- Education. Independent verification of most recent or most significant claimed attendance and/or degree/diploma within the scope of investigation. If all education is outside of the investigative scope, the last education above high school level will be verified.
- Employment. Direct verification through records of all periods of employment within scope but in any event the most recent two (2) years. Personal interviews of two sources (supervisor/coworkers) for each employment of six months or more shall be attempted. In the event that no employment exceeds six months, interviews of supervisor/coworkers shall be attempted. All periods of unemployment in excess of sixty (60) days shall be verified through records and/or sources. All prior federal/military service and type of discharges shall be verified.
- References. Four required (at least two of which are developed). To the extent practical, all should have social knowledge of subject and collectively span the entire scope of the investigation. As appropriate, additional interviews may include cohabitant(s), ex-spouses, and relative(s). Interviews with psychological/medical personnel are to be accomplished as required to resolve issues.
- Neighborhood. Interviews with neighbors for last three years if residence exceeds six months. Confirmation of current residence shall be accomplished regardless of length, including review of rental records if necessary. In the event no residence exceeds six months, interview of neighbors should be undertaken.
- Credit. Verification of the subject's financial status and credit habits of all locations where subject has resided, been employed, or attended school for six months or more for the last seven (7) years.
- Local Agency Checks. A check of appropriate Police records covering all locations where subject has resided, been employed, or attended school for six months or more during the scope of investigation, including current residence regardless of duration. In the event that no residence, employment, or education exceeds six months, local agency checks should be performed.
- Public Records. Verification of divorce(s), bankruptcy, etc., and any other court (civil or criminal) actions to which subject has been or is a party within the scope of investigation, when known or developed.
- Transferability. Investigations satisfying the scope and standards specified above are transferable between agencies and shall be deemed to meet the investigative standards for access to collateral Top Secret/National Security Information and Sensitive Compartmented Information. No further investigation or reinvestigation prior to revalidation every five years will be undertaken unless the agency has substantial information indicating that the transferring individual may not satisfy eligibility standards for clearance or the agency head determines in writing that to accept the investigation would not be in the national security interest of the United States.
- Notes. Immediate family—spouse, parents, brothers, sisters, children, and cohabitant of the individual requiring access—are tested. Not all methods are disclosed to the public.
The Standard Form 86 (SF86) is required to begin the background check process. SF86 is now an electronic form known as e-QIP, and the information on an investigation and its status is stored in either Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS), PIPS or Scattered Castles.