background checks
September 20, 2007 4:57 PM   Subscribe

How long does a background check for federal employment take these days?

Just getting anxious about this. It's not a security clearance or anything like that, but would involve access to some personal information that the agency handles. Also, what kinds of things would be problems? I should be pretty clean but this does bring on the paranoia....
posted by dilettante to Work & Money (13 answers total)
I can't speak to the States, but getting my security clearance in Canada took a couple of months the first time, and 10 months the second time.

A background check shouldn't take huge amounts of time, but if you've lived abroad at any point in the last 10 years, that can slow the process down some.

Best of luck!
posted by LN at 5:08 PM on September 20, 2007

Gonna need a lot more information to tell you that. Did you say yes to any of the drug questions? Are you muslim? Are you a dual citizen? If there is nothing that you think could be a red flag, I'd say under 2 weeks (assuming they aren't behind).
posted by whoaali at 5:10 PM on September 20, 2007

Getting cleared for SECRET took me less than a month, so just a regular old background check should be quick and painless.

No, I had no idea why clearances are always in caps.
posted by kavasa at 5:12 PM on September 20, 2007

Sorry, I guess I should clarify: this is for the U.S. which is not really the center of the known internet, I know.
posted by dilettante at 5:14 PM on September 20, 2007

Its called a suitability investigation. It is nearly identical to a security clearance investigation. Lots of delays at OPM right now due to some infighting with the DOD. OPM handles all of the investigations for these things except for CIA and DIA. I'd wait a while before panicking.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:18 PM on September 20, 2007

It took a couple of my friends half a year to get through their background checks. Actually, for one friend it took nearly nine months--by that time he'd already taken another job!
posted by schroedinger at 7:08 PM on September 20, 2007

I have one friend whose State Department background check took over a year. (Sounds like a more involved one than you're getting)
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:35 PM on September 20, 2007

My mom's security check (it was a SECRET clearance though) took six or eight months. Bureaucracy takes time... no point worrying about it.
posted by Kimberly at 12:21 AM on September 21, 2007

A family friend had to wait nine months for a TSA baggage inspection job check. It may just depend on the agency and the available resources.
posted by dhartung at 6:45 AM on September 21, 2007

I'm in what's called a "Public Trust position," and I'm guessing that's what you're talking about. I don't know how long the check took, but it was 6 months between my submitting my application and the actual job offer, about three months between the interview and the offer.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:58 AM on September 21, 2007

One of my HS buddies was recently hired as a DHS Agent. He is one of those military for life guys, when he graduated HS he had a letter of recommendation from the local congressman to get into West Point. That was about the time the Iraq invasion started so that's where he ended up. He spent 4 years over there and has had MP and Urban warfare training. When he came back he was used as a trainer at the local base because of his experience.

He got hired almost 1.5 years ago and has been officially working, doing investigations and whatnot. A few weeks ago he was called by the DHS HR department and asked if he was still interested in employment because his fingerprint/background check had just cleared.

When he first applied he was put under an enormous amount of background investigation. An investigator actually came to my house and interviewed me about him(and also six other references he had from around the country). I don't live in the same town and I only see this guy maybe twice a month, nevertheless I was subjected to a hour long question and answer session about him. (Did he party in HS? Does he spend money unwisely? What kind of car does he drive?)

He called me up the other day and asked me if I would be able to repeat the background interview for him. Apparently whatever agency did his initial background check did not share the information with the agency he has been working for.

So, if it is agency sharing information you are needing you are looking at a fairly long wait. Also, if fingerprinting is part of the process, add a month or so at least because DHS handles all fingerprinting checks now and they are backlogged. A former coworker of mine was waiting to quit her job and go work at the California Youth Authority but she had to wait for her fingerprint check to clear, she waited for over 2 years. Every 6 months she had to go and re-pass the physical and TB tests to keep her application open.

Ah, paperwork.
posted by M Edward at 11:06 AM on September 21, 2007

Holy shit. First set of documents and fingerprints went out Sept. 8. Second set of prints (had trouble with the first) went out September 13.

This morning I got a call with the official job offer, and they confirmed that the background check was complete.
posted by dilettante at 8:15 AM on September 22, 2007

(Oh, the original job application went out in April, and there was no interview - they're working entirely off paper and credentials).
posted by dilettante at 8:16 AM on September 22, 2007

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