What is a NACLC Investigation? If you are applying for a federal or military job requiring a security clearance of Confidential or Secret, you are subject to a background check and clearance process called the National Agency Check with Local Agency Checks and Credit Check or NACLC for short.
A Variety Of Investigative Tools To Choose From
NACLC isn’t the only investigation a potential military member or federal employee could be subject to. Here is a list of a variety of options, tools, and investigations that commanders or other decision makers might feel appropriate to use depending on circumstances:
National Agency Check (NAC) – Described in Pentagon literature as “…an integral part of all background investigations,” the NAC consists of reviews of relevant information in something called the Security/Suitability Investigations Index (SII), the Defense Clearance and Investigations Index (DCII), as well as FBI files.
National Agency Check and Inquiries (NACI) – Defined as the absolute minimum background check for all new federal hires. Generally a five year period is covered plus inquiries sent to the applicant’s employers, schools, personal references, as well as requests of local law enforcement.
Access NACI (ANACI) serves as an initial investigation for Federal employees “who will need access to classified national security information at the Confidential or Secret level,” according to the Pentagon. This background check includes credit information and more law enforcement inquiries. More on this below.
Background Investigation (BI) – A more intensive personal investigation but going back only five to seven years. BI is an investigation required of those applying for high-risk public trust jobs.
Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI) -Defined as a government-wide investigation, Single Scope Background Investigation is the process used for those who need a Top Secret security clearance. Expect a look at your last seven years and you will be required to provide verification of citizenship. This investigation includes national agency records checks, plus checks on your spouse or cohabitant. Former spouses may be interviewed as part of an SSBI.
SSBI-Periodic Reinvestigation (SSBI-PR) is exactly what the name implies; a required reinvestigation for those who have Top Secret security clearances. You can expect review of your employment, residences, and other information since the previous investigation.
Why The NACLC?
Also known as the NAC with Local Agency Check and Credit, the NACLC is similar to the ANACI but does not incorporate written inquiries to past employers, or schools attended. Think of this as the initial investigation with an option to also be used to meet the reinvestigation requirement for those with Confidential or Secret clearances.
The level of intensity of background investigation is naturally higher for those who need a Top Secret Clearance, and the NACLC is appropriately in-depth enough for the lower clearances without sacrificing detail or accuracy.
Some clearances may be needed even for “low-level” confidential information, and some clearance holders may only need to use their clearances occasionally. Some who hold Secret clearances never use them at all except in the case of attending classified briefings or other “passive” uses.
Background checks are time-consuming and expensive for the government, so it makes sense that there would be a tiered system in place to conduct those checks. Why go for the most thorough investigation possible when a less intensive process is sufficient?
What You Should Know About The NACLC
You will be required to complete the lengthy Standard Form 86 (more than 130 pages!) including supporting documentation you provide. You should expect a credit review and may be required to sign release forms authorizing the federal government to access your Privacy Act data.
You should know that reinvestigations are required no later than 10 years (in cases except for Confidential clearances which allow up to 15 years before reinvestigation) but these may be directed at any time.
Expect to have local law enforcement contacted for any area you have lived in during the coverage period. Investigations may be expanded from “typical” efforts if information or circumstances warrant.
On Transferring Clearances
Can you transfer a security clearance from one military job to another or from one federal job to another? This is very situational. If there are higher standards for clearances at the new job, a reinvestigation may be needed. There must be an agreement between agencies in such cases–you should not expect your security clearance to automatically transfer.
Security Clearances After A Break In Service
In some cases, a review of your existing clearance is more appropriate than conducting an entire re-investigation. If you have had a break in service (government or military) that lasts less than two years, a re-investigation may not be needed. However this may be at the discretion of the hiring agency and may depend greatly on circumstances, current policy, and other variables.
A review of your clearance information includes going through the applicant’s original Standard Form 86 and other records/supporting documentation, etc. A reinvestigation is not required “…unless the review indicates the person may no longer satisfy the standards” required under current guidelines or regulations.
Advice For Filling Out Standard Form 86
The usual advice for submitting clearance data for any background investigation applies even to a “less intensive” investigation. If you know you are going to be asked to submit SF 86, begin gathering your supporting information as early as possible. It may be difficult to locate birth records, Social Security cards, passports, or other paperwork–especially if you have recently moved or relocated and you have many personal effects in storage or packed away somewhere.
You’ll want to gather as much of this paperwork as you can and not rely on memory to fill in the blanks on the 130-pages-plus SF86.
Be as forthcoming as you can on the forms, during any interviews, and other communication. If you don’t remember or cannot locate certain information needed for the review, admit this–there may be alternative ways of gathering the data. Under no circumstances should you lie or enter misleading or inaccurate data on your background check forms.
A Word About Background Investigations And Social Media
Some applying for a clearance or considering a job where a security clearance may be required rightfully have questions about their use of social media and how it may factor into a background check.
It is very important to realize that social media platforms are considered public forums run by private enterprise and you are subject to the same review of your activities on Twitter, Facebook, Parler, SnapChat, Zoom, Instagram, or any other platform.
Consider what the final pages of Standard Form 86 have to say on this subject in the acknowledgements area:
“I Understand that, for these purposes, publicly available social media information includes any electronic social media information that has been published or broadcast for public consumption, is available on request to the public, is accessible online to the public, is available to the public by subscription or purchase, or is otherwise lawfully accessible to the public.”
Such authorization does not require the user to give investigators passwords or back-end access to their accounts, but ANY publicly-viewable posts on social media are subject to review during a security clearance background check.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News