If you’re trying to launch your national security career, you may find yourself applying for a number of positions, and potentially submitting multiple background investigations for positions. In general, the process of obtaining a security clearance comes after a tentative job offer has been offered – that means you shouldn’t be going around submitting multiple SF-86s at the same time. But given clearance processing times – while vastly improved – still vary, there is a decent chance you may find yourself in the running for multiple cleared positions. Could it be possible to have multiple investigations running simultaneously?

The SF-86 asks for information about any prior or pending background investigations. If you end up being considered for multiple positions or perhaps positions at two different clearance levels, and the investigations are both processed through the same system of record, the Vetting Risk Operations Center will be able to see where the cases are at in the process and act accordingly. There would be no need to conduct two simultaneous investigations. Even if you’re applying for positions with other government agencies, there is still a more than 95% chance the background investigation is being conducted by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA). Through the National Background Investigation System (NBIS), even if multiple applications were submitted, the system would see them. In all likelihood, a Secret clearance could be processed before any work would take place on a Top Secret investigation.

It’s worth noting that because the checks made as a part of a Secret clearance investigation are largely automated, and a Top Secret clearance requires a lot more field work. So, there is a chance you could obtain a Secret clearance and then be denied a Top Secret clearance. And that eligibility denial would rightly trickle down to your Secret clearance eligibility.

The exception to the multiple investigations rule would be applying for a position with the intelligence community. Because they conduct their own background investigations and their systems don’t ‘talk’ with NBIS, you could have simultaneous investigations happening through an intel agency and DCSA at the same time. As long as you’re honest with everyone in the process, you shouldn’t hesitate in applying for multiple positions.


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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.