We frequently warn of the importance of security clearance applicants being honest on government forms, including the SF-86 security clearance application. Falsifying  information on the SF-86 is a felony that can result in fines or five years in prison. What about the other side of the coin – a reference you provide lies during the investigation?

“What recourse do applicants have if they have proof that a previous contact or boss or coworker lied on the INV form 41? We would get fired if we lied on a form, but surely someone can’t just lie about us without recourse while threatening our jobs. Perhaps there is a civil attorney way of handling this? Anyone else experience this? This is assuming that an applicant is able to prove 100% that the form 41 is filled out in a way that is 100% a lie.” – u/bluelinefrog


It’s important to note that adjudicators don’t usually base a security clearance denial or revocation on the word of a single reference or verifier. A commenter on the thread seconds saying, “denials don’t come from testimonies; they lead us (background investigators) to official records, etc.”

The party that receives this form is provided by the subject (or security clearance applicant) to assist in completing the background investigation. If it’s someone at a former company that wouldn’t help to determine your eligibility for employment or security clearance, maybe list another reference.

If you are applying for a security clearance job and believe that an employer or salty supervisor might lie on Form INV 41, rest easy. While they technically could falsify information on the form, background investigators will inquire for more information through other sources for any issues that come up.


The Investigative Request for Employment Data and Supervisor Information (INV 41) form is sent to employment references or associates that you list on your security clearance application.

The instructions read:Your name has been provided by the person identified below to assist in completing a background investigation to help us determine this person’s suitability for employment or security clearance. To help us make this determination, we ask that you complete all items on the back of this form and return the form in the enclosed envelope. We send a separate inquiry to the personnel office and each supervisor shown on the person’s application; therefore, please do not forward this for completion by someone else.”

Download the form here.


Much about the clearance process resembles the Pirate’s Code: “more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” This case-by-case system is meant to consider the whole person, increase process security, and allow the lowest-risk/highest-need candidates to complete the process. This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation. 

Related News

Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 8+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸