The National Agency Check with Inquiries (NACI) is a background investigation primarily for federal employees who will not have access to classified information. This investigation is appropriate for positions designated as public trust positions that require responsible and trustworthy employees, but with no national security impact.

In 2015, the government began implementing revised National Investigative Standards. The new standards are a five-tier system including six types of investigations. The NACI investigation is used for clearances at the Tier 1 level.

The primary reason that the NACI is not an appropriate investigation for a security clearance is that a credit check is not required. When a security clearance adjudicator makes a clearance determination, the decision is based on the whole person concept as related to 13 adjudication criteria. These criteria are designed to help assess whether or not a person has demonstrated trustworthiness to protect classified information. Trustworthiness depends on a person’s allegiance to the United States, character and trustworthiness. For example, what a person spends money on, timeliness of payments, and financial stewardship are identified in credit reports. The credit check goes a long way in addressing all three issues.  Therefore the NACI is not thorough enough to make a security clearance determination.

Examples of Roles Requiring NACI Clearance

An example of a position that requires a NACI is for those performing information technology roles. These professionals are privy to sensitive but unclassified government and contractor information that reside on computer systems and networks. This information includes, technical data, personal records, contract data, programmatic details and etc. Because of the sensitivity, a background investigation is required.

The NACI is good for 5 years and the elements include a completed National Agency Check where federal agencies databases are queried and a law enforcement check. Written correspondence is required to verify education, employment and character references.

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Jeffrey W. Bennett is a security consultant with SFPC, SAPPC, ISOC, ISP certifications. He maintains a security blog and newsletter and is the author of many security books including DoD Security Clearance and Contracts Guidebook-What Cleared Contractors Need to Know About Their Need to Know, The Insider’s Guide to Security Clearances, and books on security certification. Visit his website for more information.