CHAPTER 3. NATIONAL SECURITY CLEARANCES AND BACKGROUND INVESTIGATIONS FOR CONTRACTORS, CONSULTANTS, AND NON-EMPLOYEES
1. National Security Clearances for Contractors and Consultants as Part of a Classified Contract.
A. General. Contractors and consultants requiring access to national security information require a background investigation and the appropriate level security clearance. USGS contracting officials must insure that security clearance requirements and costs are clearly defined in the contractual document/consultant agreement. Top Secret, Secret, and Confidential security clearances for contractors and consultants as part of a classified contract are obtained through the Department of Defense (DOD), Defense Security Service (DSS), Industrial Security Program (See Chapter 14, USGS National Security Information Handbook, 440-3-H). The contractor security officer receives the certification of security clearance from DOD. At that time, the contractor security officer coordinates with DOD and USGS to provide access to classified information for the contractor or consultant.
B. Department of Energy (DOE) “Q” and “L” Security Clearance for Contractors and Consultants. These two clearances are part of DOE’s program for protection of information as required under the Atomic Energy Act. The clearances may be granted only by DOE based on an individual’s need for access to the information and a favorable adjudication of the required background investigation. The USGS project manager for the contractors and consultants must coordinate with the Security Management Office to obtain specific guidelines.
C. Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) Access for Contractors and Consultants.
(1) Contractor Facility Security Clearance. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) directives and regulations govern access to SCI material by the USGS and its contractors and consultants. Initially, verification of the company Top Secret facility clearance must be determined. If the company is uncleared, a request for a Top Secret facility security clearance must be initiated through the DOD/DSS Industrial Security Program (See Chapter 14, USGS National Security Information Handbook, 440-3-H).
(2) Contractor Employee SCI Security Clearance. The requirements for access to SCI include: a Single Scope Background Investigation completed or updated within the most recent 5-year period, a Top Secret clearance, specific justification for the special access, and concurrence by the CIA. Initially, the Top Secret security clearance and background investigation for the contractor or consultant employee must be obtained through the DOD/DSS Industrial Security Program. The contractor security officer must send each individual’s security forms package for the SSBI to DOD/DSS. The contractor security officer must also notify the Primary Security Officer or contract monitor of the name and social security number of the contractor employee submitted for an SSBI for SCI access. The Primary Security Officer will provide the CIA with the required justification for special access. DOD/DSS will send the completed SSBI and certify the DOD/DSS Top Secret security clearance to the CIA. Upon approval from the CIA, the Primary Security Officer will coordinate with the contractor employee to provide the needed SCI briefings and accesses.
D. Background Investigations for a Security Clearance for Contractors and Consultants. Specific types of investigations are conducted for each of the different types of security clearance in order to provide a basis for ensuring that the employment, or continued employment, is clearly consistent with the interests of national security. The minimum investigative requirement for Sensitive Compartmented Information Access, Top Secret, and DOE “Q” is an SSBI, SSGI, or SSDI not more than 5 years old, or updated within the most recent 5-year period; for a Secret, Confidential, or DOE “L” security clearance the minimum investigative requirement is an NACLC not more than 10 years old, or updated within the most recent 10-year period.
2. Suitability Background Investigations for Building Services Contractors and Consultants.
A. General. All contract individuals who require routine and continuing access to USGS owned and leased facilities and to facilities where responsibility has been delegated by General Services Administration (GSA) to perform building services functions such as building maintenance, building construction, cleaning, carpet installation, guard services, cafeteria services, movers, etc., must undergo a background suitability check. The Federal Protective Service (FPS), Department of Homeland Security, will conduct the background suitability check on a non-reimbursable basis at the request of the sponsoring agency. FPS will also report the results and determine the contractor’s suitability for employment. The requirement for the background suitability check must be included in the formal Government contract as follows:
Suitability Background Investigation Requirements
(1) The contractor shall submit to the Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) within ten calendar days of the contract award date, a GSA Form 176, Statement of Personal History, Figure 3-1; an FD 258, Fingerprint Card, Figure 3-2; and a covering memo for all employees working on the contract who will have access to the USGS facility(s) in performance of the contract work These forms will be submitted for replacement employees within ten calendar days of their entrance on duty. Additionally, the contractor will resubmit these forms for employees to conduct update suitability background checks every five years. For employees cleared through this process while employed by a contractor who is subsequently replaced by another contractor in the same building(s), the new contractor shall only be required to submit another set of these forms if the employee has not been cleared within the last five years, or if required by the COR. NOTE: Update suitability background checks for guard service employees are every two years.
(2) The above forms are then sent to FPS for the purpose of conducting a background suitability check and adjudicating the information obtained during that check. If an unfavorable determination is received from FPS, the Contracting Officer or Contracting Officer Representative shall immediately inform the contractor that such employee cannot continue to work or be assigned to work under the contract.
(3) The Government shall have and exercise full and complete control over granting, denying, withholding, or terminating the suitability certification for contractor employees. The Government may, as it deems appropriate, authorize and grant a temporary suitability certification to contractor employees. However, the granting of a temporary suitability certification to any such employee shall not be considered assurance that full certification will follow as a result or condition thereof, and the granting of either temporary or full certification shall in no way prevent, preclude, or bar the withdrawal or termination of any such certification by the Government.
B. Requesting Investigative Support from FPS.
(1) Regional and Field Offices. An official written request for the suitability checks should be made to the applicable FPS Regional Office (See USGS Handbook 440-2-H, Appendix D) by the security representative or principal official of each facility.
(2) National Center. The Security Management Office has provided the appropriate request to the FPS National Capital Region for background suitability checks for the National Center, Reston, Virginia.
C. Investigative Requirements.
(1) Forms.Required forms can be obtained from the applicable FPS Regional Office.
NOTE: There is no requirement for an individual to be a U.S. citizen to work as a contract employee for the USGS. However, individuals must be in the U.S. legally and must be allowed to work in the U.S. legally. Individuals must have a valid Social Security Number and should have lived in the U.S. for a minimum of 3 years.
(2) Initial Investigative Requirements. Each employee of the contractor who requires routine and continuing access to USGS owned and leased facilities and to facilities where responsibility has been delegated by General Services Administration (GSA) must be subjected to a suitability background check and submit the necessary forms to the COR within ten days of employment at the Government facility. The COR must immediately submit the forms to the Security Management Office for individuals working at the National Center. For contractor individuals working at regional or field offices, the COR must immediately submit the forms to the designated USGS security representative or official, who in turn submits the forms to the appropriate FPS regional office.
(3) Update Investigative Requirements. Each employee of the contractor is required to resubmit the appropriate forms to the COR every five years to update and reverify employee suitability. For contract guard service employees, the appropriate forms must be submitted every two years.
D. Submitting Investigative Forms to FPS.
(1) Regional and Field Offices. The designated USGS security representative or official is to ensure that all forms are correct before submitting them by a transmittal letter to the appropriate FPS Regional Office. The designated USGS security representative or official should maintain an up-to-date file on each contract employee and ensure that the employee’s suitability has been verified initially, as well as meeting the update requirements.
(2) National Center. The COR or his/her representative is to ensure that all forms are correct before submitting them to the Security Management Office. The COR or his/her representative should maintain an up-to-date file on each contract employee and ensure that the employee’s suitability has been verified initially, as well as meeting the update requirements. The Security Management Office will review and forward the investigative forms to FPS using a transmittal letter. Instructions for obtaining, completing, and submitting required forms can be found at http://internal.usgs.gov/ops/security/gsa176ins.html.
E. Results from FPS.
(1) FPS conducts a preliminary check using a National Crime Information Check (NCIC) and an Interstate Identification Index (Triple III) check to make a temporary determination of suitability. After FPS has completed these checks, the requesting official will be notified of the results by letter.
(2) If the record check develops information indicating that the individual is temporarily unsuitable, the requesting official will be informed in a letter from FPS that the employee is unacceptable for employment under a government contract; therefore, the individual can no longer work as a contract employee for the USGS. The COR or his/her representative is notified of the decision, in writing, by the USGS designated security representative or official with a copy of the FPS decision letter and a Certification of Notification of Unacceptable Suitability Determination attached. The Certification of Notification of Unacceptable Suitability Determination must be completed and returned to the USGS security representative or official immediately upon completion. If the individual has been found temporarily unsuitable, he/she must immediately leave the building. All USGS Identification Cards and keys must be collected. The individual has the opportunity to provide FPS with mitigating circumstances. If the decision is recanted by FPS after the individual who received the unfavorable notification presents mitigating circumstances, the individual may return to work after the favorable decision is received, in writing, from FPS to the requesting official. The USGS designated security representative or official will notify the COR or his/her representative of the favorable decision and that the individual may return to work.
(3) A final adjudication is made by FPS and provided to the requesting official, in writing, after reviewing criminal history records of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) based on the submission of fingerprints by the individual. The final determination will be provided, in writing, to the COR or his/her representative. If the decision is unfavorable, the COR or his/her representative is notified of the decision, in writing, by the USGS designated security representative or official with a copy of the FPS decision letter and a Certification of Notification of Unacceptable Suitability Determination attached. The Certification of Notification of Unacceptable Suitability Determination must be completed and returned to the USGS security representative or official immediately upon completion. If the individual has been found unsuitable, he/she must immediately leave the building. All USGS Identification Cards and keys must be collected. The individual has the opportunity to provide FPS with mitigating circumstances. If the decision is recanted by FPS after the individual who received the unfavorable notification presents mitigating circumstances, the individual may return to work after the favorable decision is received, in writing, from FPS to the requesting official. The USGS designated security representative or official will notify the COR or his/her representative of the favorable decision and that the individual may return to work.
3. Contractor Public Trust Positions.
A. General. USGS contractor individuals who are in Moderate Risk and High Risk Public Trust positions must be investigated based on the criteria cited in Departmental Manual 441, Personnel Security and Suitability Requirements, Chapter 3. Information Technology (IT) Moderate Risk and High Risk Public Trust positions are investigated based on the risk designation level criteria cited in Departmental Manual 441, Chapter 3, and in the criteria in Survey Manual 600.5, Automated Information Systems Security – General Requirements. Low Risk Public Trust positions do not require an investigation. The Security Investigative Form Requirements, Appendix B, delineate the investigative documentation required for Moderate Risk and High Risk Public Trust Positions. The Security Investigative Form Preparation Instructions, Appendix C, explain how to complete each form. The following steps will be accomplished:
(1) The COR is responsible for assuring that contractors in Public Trust positions requiring an investigation complete the appropriate investigative forms. The COR reviews all forms prepared by the contractor. The forms are transmitted from the COR to the Regional Security Officer, his/her designee, or alternate within 14 days of placement of the contractor.
(2) The Regional Security Officer, his/her designee, or alternate assures that all the forms are complete; signs the 9-3056, USGS Personnel Security Action Request, Figure 2-2, as the final approving authority; and completes the top portion of the SF-85P, “Agency Use Only” section, following the instructions provided in the Security SF-86 and SF-85P “Agency Use Only” Section Instructions, Appendix D.
(3) Form FIPC-391, Certification of Amended Investigative Form, Figure 2-5, may be completed and signed by the Regional Security Officer, his/her designee, or alternate, in lieu of returning the investigative forms to the individual, when an individual makes an amendment to the SF-85P and fails to initial the amendment or an amendment needs to be made. Only the questions delineated on the FIPC-391 may be altered or amended. Amendments or alterations made to the investigative document must be consistent with the subject’s intent and must be made with his/her concurrence.
(4) The reviewed and completed investigative forms are transmitted from the Regional Security Officer, his/her designee, or alternate to the Security Management Office. All forms must be sent to the Security Management Office within 60 days of the date on the forms. Otherwise, the forms will have to be returned for updating, a new signature, and current date.
B. Public Trust Certification for Contractors.
(1) Favorable Determination. Based upon a favorable adjudication of the appropriate investigation, the Security Management Office will issue a USGS Certification of Favorable Determination for a Public Trust Contractor, Figure 3-3, to the Regional Security Officer. A copy of the certification will be maintained in the security file. The back of the certification has two sections. Section A will be completed by the Regional Security Officer who will forward a copy of the Public Trust certification to the COR. Section B will be used by the Regional Security Officer to notify the Security Management Office of any change in the status of the individual.
(2) Unfavorable Determination. The Security Management Office will follow the procedures outlined below when unfavorable security actions are taken based on the results of an investigation for a Public Trust contractor. The individual will be provided:
(a) A written Statement of Reasons (SOR) for the decision, which will be stated as specifically as security considerations will permit, and if applicable, a USGS Privacy Act Notice for Security Interviews, Figure 4-1. The USGS Security Management Office will prepare a summary from the investigative file to be included in the SOR, but will not include information that: (1) is classified (i.e., Top Secret, Secret, or Confidential), even if the subject has a security clearance; (2) would reveal the identity of a source granted confidentiality; (3) is protected sensitive medical information as denoted in 5 CFR 297.205; or (4) is otherwise exempt from release by the Privacy Act. If the individual requests a copy of the investigative report, then he/she must contact the Freedom of Information Act Officer/Privacy Act Officer of the agency that conducted and/or created the original investigative report. The address will be provided by the USGS Security Management Office. The USGS Security Management Office cannot provide a copy of the investigative report to the individual.
(b) An opportunity shall be provided to the individual to respond to the SOR, and to request a review of the determination. The written response must be submitted within 45 days from the date the person received and signed for the SOR. (Upon request by the person and approval of the USGS Security Management Office, if warranted, up to an additional 30 days may be granted.) If the individual does not respond to the SOR, the person shall be notified that a timely response was not received, and their certification has been denied. The individual shall also be informed that the decision is final and is not subject to further appeal.
(c) A review of the documentation provided by the person, if applicable, before a final bureau determination.
(d) A Letter of Decision will be provided to the individual that shall include:
The decision made by the Security Management Office shall be final. The written decision, and supporting material, will be filed in the individual’s security file.
(e) Upon the completion of the due process procedure, the Security Management Office will sign the OPM OFI-79A, Report of Agency Adjudicative Action on OPM Personnel Investigations, and return the form to OPM. If the final determination is unfavorable, the COR will be informed by letter that the employee is unsuitable for work under the USGS contract. The COR must assure that any adverse background reports are properly acted upon, including removal from USGS contract work as required.
C. Special Briefings for Public Trust Contractors with Information Technology (IT) Duties. Before a Public Trust contractor can assume IT duties, the project manager will brief the individual on the inherent responsibilities of the position. The individual will execute the USGS Contractor Computer/IT Position Agreement, 9-3058, Figure 3-4. The project manager will return the original briefing statement as part of the initial investigative forms package through the COR and Regional Security Officer to the Security Management Office.
D. Termination of Contractor Public Trust Certifications. When a contractor in a Public Trust position terminates employment, the COR will notify the Regional Security Officer. The Regional Security Officer will execute the backside of the USGS Certification of Favorable Determination for a Public Trust Contractor, Figure 3-3, indicating that the individual has terminated employment, and forward this document to the Security Management Office.