Frequently Asked Questions and their Answers
Question (Q). Can I just go directly to the eQIP website and logon or register?
Answer (A). No you cannot. The VA agency that is processing your request for background investigation must FIRST initiate an eQIP account for you. After your eQIP account has been initiated, you will receive an email notification from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) containing your eQIP Registration Code (14 characters). You can then access the eQIP website and register. The link to eQIP is: http://www.opm.gov/e-qip/
Question (Q). I do not have an eQIP username or password, what do I do?
Answer (A). First, has a VA agency or office notified you that an eQIP account has been initiated for you and instructed you to access the eQIP website? If your answer is NO, you must contact the VA agency that is processing your request for background investigation. The Security and Investigations Center (SIC) Help Desk can be reached at 501-257-4469 or 4490 or at email@example.com. If your answer is YES, you will need to access the eQIP website and register by entering identifying information and the registration code provided to you by your sponsoring agency. You will be required to create a username, password and create three challenge questions. Your username and password will be all that is required to login after your initial eQIP registration. The three challenge questions can be used to reset your password. You can also reference OPM’s eQIP First-Time-User-Login instructions here: https://www.opm.gov/investigations/e-qip-application/first-time-user-login-instructions.pdf
Question (Q). When I attempt to login to eQIP, it will not accept my username or password.
Answer (A). If you have forgotten your username, you must contact the VA agency that is processing your request for background investigation. If the SIC is processing the request, you can reach the SIC Help Desk at 501-257-4469 or 4490 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have forgotten your password, you should use the Challenge Questions that you created during registration to reset your password.
Question (Q). Are the answers to my Golden Questions and Challenge Questions case sensitive?
Answer (A). No, the answers to your golden questions and challenge questions are not case sensitive. You must type them in exactly as they were entered the first time.
If you added any spaces or punctuation in the response, it must be entered exact. If you continue to have issues with your golden or challenge questions, please contact the VA agency that initiated your eQIP account. The SIC Help Desk can be reached at 501-257-4469 or 4490 or at email@example.com.
Question (Q). Can I access and complete eQIP from my personal computer at home? If so, do I need a specific internet browser?
Answer (A). Yes you can use your personal computer – or your office computer. eQIP is designed to be accessible from most computers, anywhere in the world. A browser configuration check will alert you to any incompatibilities with browsers or browser versions before you login to the eQIP application.
Question (Q). Why do I need a background investigation? My job does not require a security clearance.
Answer (A). The VA requirement for a background investigation does not mean that you are being considered for a security clearance. Some VA positions require a security clearance but most do not. For those that require a security clearance, a background investigation is conducted to support the decision to grant a clearance. For all others, a background investigation is conducted to determine if the individual is suitable for VA employment or is suitable for access to VA facilities and information. The background investigation is completed for the protection of the Veterans the VA serves, employees, family members, and visitors; as well as the Veterans and national information and resources.
Question (Q). Do I have to answer all the questions on the eQIP questionnaire? A lot of that information is already on my resume.
Answer (A). Yes. The resume is part of the application process. The eQIP questionnaire is part of the investigation process. All of the questions should be answered accurately, honestly, and with complete addresses.
Question (Q). What will happen if I refuse to give you some of this personal information?
Answer (A). The background investigation is a job requirement. Providing the information is voluntary, but if you choose not to provide the required information, you will not meet the requirements of the job and will therefore not be considered further. If you are already employed by the Federal government, your appointment is subject to termination. The courts have upheld this principle.
Question (Q). What should I do if I remember something later, after I've filled out the eQIP questionnaire or forms and turned them in?
Answer (A). Immediately notify the SIC office. The SIC office will determine the processing stage of your investigation. If your case has been forwarded to the next agency, you will provide information to the investigator during interview. Otherwise, the SIC office may return your eQIP questionnaire to you for updates before releasing to the next agency.
Question (Q). I do not want everybody reading my personal information; who gets to see my information?
Answer (A). The only persons authorized to see your personal information are Personnel Security, Suitability, and investigations professionals who have been investigated at the appropriate level and who have a genuine and demonstrated need for access to the information.
Question (Q). I'm not a criminal; why do you want my fingerprints?
Answer (A). Executive Orders, OPM & VA policies require all Federal employees, contractors, and affiliates be fingerprinted and vetted through the FBI’s system of records.
Question (Q). Are you going to interview people other than those I name on the questionnaire? If so, why?
Answer (A). Background Investigators are required to identify, locate, and interview a sufficient number of people who know you well. Standards and policies require a balanced and unbiased investigation; it would be a questionable investigative practice to only interview persons whom the individual being investigated identified.
Question (Q). Is it acceptable if I guess at dates and addresses that I cannot remember?
Answer (A). Providing information that is as complete and accurate as possible will assure that your investigation is completed in an efficient and timely manner. If you give us approximate information, note that on the questionnaire and if you are interviewed in person, discuss the approximated information on the eQIP questionnaire with the Investigator.
Question (Q). Why do you need information about my relatives?
Answer (A). Relatives can potentially influence your actions. We need to determine if you could be exploited by threats or pressure against your relatives or if they themselves could exert pressure against you.
Question (Q). Will I get a chance to explain some of the answers I give you?
Answer (A). Yes. Many types of background investigation require a personal interview. Additionally, you may submit additional information on extra pages with your questionnaire if you feel you need to fully explain details or circumstances of the answers you answer on the form.
Question (Q). Who has access to the final background investigation you prepare about me? Do I?
Answer (A). The only persons authorized to see your completed background investigation are Personnel Security, Suitability, and Investigations professionals who have been investigated and have demonstrated a need to review the information. You may request a copy of your investigation file under provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). For an OPM investigation request, write to FOI/PA office, OPM-FIS, Post Office Box 618, Boyers, PA 16018-0618 or email FISFOIPARequests@OPM.gov. You must include your full name, Social Security Number, date and place of birth, and you must sign your request. OPM guidance and request on obtaining a copy of your background investigation records can be found at: https://www.opm.gov/investigations/freedom-of-information-and-privacy-act-requests/
Question (Q). What if you talk to someone who just doesn't like me and they lie about me?
Answer (A). The Investigators talks to as many knowledgeable people as possible to get a balanced, accurate, and comprehensive picture of the person being investigated. During your personal interview (if applicable) you may have an opportunity to refute any misleading or false information that was reported about you.
Question (Q). I'm physically handicapped; will that hurt my chances for a job?
Answer (A). No. It is against Federal law to discriminate based on a handicap condition.
Question (Q). Are you going to inform my boss that I am looking for a job with the VA?
Answer (A). It is a requirement of a background investigation that your current employer be contacted. We must verify your employment data and make other inquiries concerning your background. If you are a Federal employee, it may be that your current employer needs you to have an investigation for the work you do. In other instances, generally you are asked to complete the investigative form for an investigation only after a conditional offer of employment has been made for a position requiring an investigation.
Question (Q). I was contacted regarding derogatory information that was developed in my background investigation. What do I do?
Answer (A). Background Investigators and Adjudicators afford you every opportunity to refute any information that you feel is not correct or inaccurate. With that also comes the burden of proof. Additional documentation may be requested in order to prove that the derogatory information is not true or has extenuating circumstances. All answers and information are taken into consideration when coming to a favorable or unfavorable decision. Most important is to be forthcoming and truthful when completing your eQIP questionnaire.
Question (Q). Who decides if I get the job?
Answer (A). The SIC adjudicators will evaluate your case and communicate their findings to the appropriate Human Resources (HR) office or to the Contracting Officer Representative (for contractors). The hiring decision is not made by the SIC. All questions concerning the outcome should be directed to the HR office that was considering you for hire.
Question (Q). My job requires a security clearance. Who decides if I get a security clearance?
Answer (A). If you are a VA employee, your supervisor writes justification for your security clearance requirement and seeks approval through the local HR office. The SIC Adjudicator will adjudicate the final closed background investigation and make a final determination.
Question (Q). Is it true that the background investigation will include a credit report?
Answer (A). Yes. A search of the records of commercial credit reporting agencies is an integral part of almost all background investigations.
Question (Q). Do you ever interview someone's ex-spouse or relatives?
Answer (A). Yes, although, in many instances, interviewing ex-spouses or relatives is not mandatory.
Question (Q). I graduated from high school and college many years ago; why do you need detailed information about my education?
Answer (A). A person’s education is a major consideration when education or expertise in a particular discipline is a qualifications requirement for the job. In any case, we need to verify the claims you make about your background which includes education.
Question (Q). Do I have to go to a police station to be fingerprinted?
Answer (A). No. You should be electronically fingerprinted at the closest VA fingerprinting facility. Contact your hiring agency for the nearest VA fingerprint facility.
Question (Q). Doesn't the FBI conduct all Federal background investigations?
Answer (A). Actually, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Defense, and a few other agencies share this responsibility. The FBI mostly conducts investigations of high level Presidential appointees (Cabinet Officers and agency heads) and staff who may work at the White House directly for the President.
Question (Q). How long does a background investigation take?
Answer (A). Because of the number of variable factors involved, there is no definitive answer to this question. Varying factors include the type of investigation, the workload of the investigator as well as the accuracy of information listed on the eQIP questionnaire.
Question (Q). How do I find out the status of my investigation?
Answer (A). You can contact your Contracting Officer (if a contractor) or Human Resource Officer for the status.