What Is the Difference Between SCI and SSBI? – Clearance Q&A

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Q: My clearance is TS (SSBI), which I believe makes me eligible for SCI, although I had never been “read in” to any programs requiring that access. I have been receiving denials for job applications requiring TS/SCI. Given that I am (presumably) “SCI-eligible,” should I be pursuing these jobs further, or even listing my clearance as TS/SCI on the application? Obviously, I don’t want to misrepresent myself, but also don’t want to be missing on some great opportunities unnecessarily.

A: A Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI) is reserved for employees (military, civilian and contractor) requiring a TOP SECRET security clearance and access to sensitive compartmented information (SCI). A popular misconception is that SCI is also a type of security clearance (like ‘secret’ ‘top secret’ and ‘confidential.’) It’s not. SCI is an access determination based on need to access intelligence information. It’s often associated with the intelligence community, but many federal agencies have SCI programs. Many individuals who have SCI access through the intelligence community are also required to take polygraph examinations as a part of the screening process, but it’s an inaccurate belief by some that everyone with a TS/SCI has a polygraph.

SCI is the access granted after the investigation, hence the title ‘TS/SCI.’ As you stated, you’re correct to indicate ‘TS/SCI-eligible’ on your resume and in correspondence, but it would be inaccurate to list ‘TS/SCI.’ You’re likely missing out on opportunities not because you don’t have SCI access in general, but because you don’t have it for the specific program the position is applying for – adding it would only slow down your job search, not help you land the position.

 

Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.