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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    6,350

    Five Myths About Background Investigations

    I find myself answering posts about BI's all over the place without overcoming some of the "shared misperceptions" that happen around here so I thought I would put some of this in one place, where I can link it or more folks might see it. Besides, I might have some misperceptions and others can add or correct.

    1. Backgrounds Take Forever

    No. Very rarely does a BI take more than a couple of weeks to complete (I'm being generous, in terms of real work maybe four or five days). There can be factors like workload on the investigator(s) or the rare complication for an individual, but most are assigned and completed in 30 days.

    Aha, you say. "Been checking weekly and they have told me my BI is not completed and it has been 6 months". Best way I can answer that is that applicants and agencies are using the term background investigation a little differently. Applicants hear pending BI and think minions are scrambling about doing something. Agencies are more likely referring to a place in the process than activity. You are pending BI when you get to that part of the process where the BI is the next step. May go quickly, may stop and start, may not start for a long term in the sense of real work being done. Agency is trying to time completion of the BI to making a selection and offer so that it is fresh.

    2. If BI's were done faster, I would be hired faster

    Not exactly. Again the agency is thinking of moving applicants through (with some exceptions) a process with a view to putting say 35 to 40 in a training program. If you were done first, you might well wait for the other 34 to 39 and as noted, if done to soon, it would have to be freshened up. Sometimes there is a chance that an applicant can jump up on a start date because someone drops out at the last minute, but generally your moving through like a herd and it is last steer in before first steer goes to the next pasture.


    3. If agencies shared BI's, the process would be faster and cheaper

    Maybe a grain of truth in this, but only a single grain. In terms of moving you as an applicant it will not go faster, because as noted, very very few places you are going to move alone. Plus the BI is both suitability and security clearance so you would undergo the suitability pretty much anyway. Also, as noted, BI's have a shelf life. Pretty much going to get updated every 5 years or so in your career and depending on your last update, easier to just fresh you up when you start with whatever agency. Anyway all benefit here would go to the agency, not to the applicant. You're going to stay "Pending BI" until the agency is ready for you and several dozen of your best friends to move on.

    4. There are a couple of minor issues that I can clear up with the BI investigator

    Maybe, but mostly not. What you should count on if such things exist and you have not listed them and explained them in the paperwork you are likely to be non-selected. May well get a call, and you may explain away, but on the inside of the BI/Suitability it will go down more as "Found a record that the applicant served a one day suspension for being late. The applicant did not report this disciplinary in the documentation provided. Contacted the applicant who confirmed that it was in fact them." (and then went on with a bunch of explanations none of us care about.) Good news, if any, is I know a number of folks who "forgot" or "thought it wasn't important" and got turned down, reapplied with more full disclosure and got hired - a year or so later than they would have been. Forgetting to report evidence or exculpatory information is a really bad move for Fed LE officers, so agencies like to get it all documented and spoon fed to them. Failure to disclose what the agency sees are requested information is far more fatal to applications than whatever it was -- even if it was minor crapola to begin with.

    5. The process wastes a lot of money

    Absolutely wrong. The process is expensive and not entirely perfect, but it saves tons on removing persons who will not be successful before the next and much bigger expense of training. The whole process of recruiting, testing, clearing, training and probation is costly. But not compared to what it costs to carefully enforce and apply the standards. Invest thousands wisely at the beginning and you are far more likely to get a multi-million dollar asset to the US. That being each of you. Don't do it and by the time you get through disaster, loss and litigation you would arrive where a lot of folks who run this process are. Doing this right is the inexpensive way to do the right thing.
    ret.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    6,350
    While there is discussion on this, I have moved the talking about it here . Just to prevent the sticky from getting huge. I'll close this and we can all talk about this in the discussion thread. Thanks.
    ret.


 

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