Frequently Asked Questions


Where do we find PSIP user procedures?

PSIP user procedures are outlined in the Requester guide. This reference guide is currently posted on the References tab of the PSIP site Requestor Guide

Should the CPACs first query JPAS before submitting a request on a civilian new hire via the PSIP?

It is not necessary for CPACs to validate need via the security office. The PSI-CoE will validate need when the request is received through PSIP. If the person does not require an investigation, PSI-CoE will notify the Requester and the investigation will not be initiated. If CPACs choose to validate need with the security office it may delay the overall timeframe for investigation processing.

How do I know if my PSIP request was successfully submitted?

You will get a ticket number when the request is submitted. The ticket number represents the tracking number for that individual investigation request. Additionally, an email will be sent indicating the successful submission of the PSI request within a few minutes from receipt of the request. If you believe your request was not successfully submitted, please contact the PSI-CoE Customer Service Center at (410) 278-4194 to confirm that the request was received.

What is the level of clearance/investigation required by PSIP Requesters?

To access PSIP, requesters must have a complete and favorable NACI or higher level investigation. A clearance is not required to access the site.

What are the Customer Support Center (CSC) hours?

The PSI-CoE CSC is open Monday-Thursday 0600-2400 and Friday 0600-2200. All times are EST.

What is the mailing address for the PSI-CoE?

PSI Center of Excellence
Bldg 3240 Raritan Ave.
Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21005-5001

What are the procedures for returning the OPM Form 79A (OF 79A)?

The OF 79A must be completed and returned to OPM if it is attached to the investigation package. Follow the instructions on the form and return as the form instructs.

Who do I contact if I am experiencing a problem/error when submitting a new request through the PSIP website?

Requesters experiencing a problem submitting new investigation requests through PSIP should call the PSI-CoE Customer Service Center at (410) 278-4194. The PSI-CoE CSC is open Monday-Thursday 0600-2400 and Friday 0600-2200. All times are EST. Requesters may also e-mail with questions relating to the PSIP website.

Who is the primary POC for the PSI-CoE?

All questions or concerns related to requests or PSI-CoE operation should be directed to the PSI-CoE Customer Service Center at (410) 278-4194 or email 

What training is available to requesters?

The PSIP Requestor Guide details how to submit investigation to the PSI-CoE. An online AIES overview training is available on the DSS STEPP  web page under Personnel Security. You must have an active STEPP account and be logged in to receive the training.

Can contractors serve as requesters in PSIP?

Yes, contractors may submit through PSIP if they are submitting on behalf of the government, they meet the investigation requirement, and they perform personnel security duties as part of their contract.

Are Local Record Checks required to request an investigation via PSIP?

Local records checks are no longer a required element for the request of a background investigation. The conduct of a local records check in support of an interim security clearance/exception appointment will be conducted separate from the background investigation submission process as not to delay the submission/request of a background investigation.

How do you annotate a break in service in PSIP?

If the Subject has a 24 month break in service, annotate it in the Comments field at the end of the investigation request. If there is less than a 24 month break in federal service and the investigation requirement for the individual meets or exceeds that which is being requested, the PSI-CoE will not initiate a new investigation.

How do you access applicants SF8X for interim decisions?

To facilitate the interim security clearance and/or exception appointment decision, the PSI-CoE will forward the completed SF8X forms to the appropriate security office as designated in the request. For a civilian new hire investigation, the CPAC must list the appropriate supporting security officer as the “Alternate Requester” in order to facilitate proper communication. In order for this to occur, the appropriate security office must be registered in PSIP.

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Processing Time Frame

How long does a subject have to complete the forms?

The subject has 5 calendar days to complete the form. After 5 days, the e-QIP system will automatically terminate the request.

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Requesting Investigations

What is the requirement for submitting the SF85P?

The submission and use of the SF85P is restricted to positions deemed as moderate or high risk public trust in accordance with OPM’s Position Designation Tool (PDT). Only the Moderate Background Investigation (MBI) and Background Investigation (BI) will be submitted on the SF85P. (add link to memo)

What if I accidentally submit a mistake (misspelled name, wrong SSN, etc.)?

Call the PSI-CoE Customer Support Center immediately at (410) 278-4194. If the PSIP application has not yet been initiated, any fields can be updated. Once it has been initiated, the SSN is locked down and a new request will have to be generated.

What if the subject claims to have completed their forms but we are still receiving e-mails that forms are missing?

Once the subject prints their releases at the end of the SF85/SF85P/SF86 form in e-QIP, they must click on the “Release Requests/Transmit to Agency” button. If Step 5 of the release process is not completed, the e-QIP form will not be forwarded to the PSI-CoE for review. Instruct them to go back into their forms and ensure that the “Release Requests/Transmit to Agency” button is clicked at the very end. If Step 5 has been completed the case may be awaiting review by the next available Background Administrator. For additional information, questions or concerns please call the PSI-CoE Customer Support Center at (410) 278-4194 or DSN 312-298-4194.

Release guidance:

How do I check the status of an investigation?

You will receive email notifications every five days indicating the status of your request. The PSI-CoE staff will also contact you when items or documentation is pending. If the emails do not provide sufficient information on the status of an investigation and the investigation has not been submitted to OPM, you may contact the PSI-CoE Customer Service Center at (410) 278-4194 or DSN 298-4194. Once the investigation is submitted to OPM, your local security office can check the status using JPAS. The security office will be able to determine if the investigation is open or closed, as well as the applicable adjudication status.

Is there a alternate fax number for the PSI-CoE? Is a DSN number available?

The PSI-CoE fax numbers are:
(410) 306-3858 DSN 458-3858 (commercial – with DSN) or 410-306-0413/DSN 458-0413

What if the subject does not have e-mail?

An e-mail account is a requirement for PSI submission. Recommend several options for the subject: kiosks at the requesting office, library, free e-mail sites, etc.

Can a background investigation be requested on a volunteer?

Yes, if the person is volunteering in an official position and meets the requirements for HSPD-12 or access to classified information.

Does PSI-CoE require proof of US citizenship from the applicant?

The PSI-CoE does not require citizenship documentation from the subject. The Requester should verify citizenship prior to the investigation request being submitted in PSIP.

How will the subject and security office know to re-initiate if an investigation is returned from OPM as unacceptable?

The PSI-CoE will notify the Requester if a case is returned as unacceptable and will work with OPM to get the case resubmitted and opened. The PSI-CoE may have to contact the subject/Requester for additional information to satisfy OPMs requirement and get the case re-opened.

Why doesn’t the PSI-CoE use the unit’s SON and SOI when requesting investigations?

The PSI-CoE’s SON is used because they are submitting the investigation to OPM. The OPM only allows one [1] SOI in e-QIP per investigation. If the investigation is for a clearance, CAFSOI is entered. If the investigation is for suitability, the Requestor’s SOI is entered.

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Is it possible to email the OF306 and resume to the PSI-CoE?

Yes, if all investigations The forms may be e-mailed to: 

Is the OF306 required for an investigation submitted on the SF86, SF85, and SF85P form?

The OF306 is required for all initial investigation requests for civilian new hires submitted through PSI-CoE. As part of the PSI-CoE quality assurance process, the PSI-CoE will conduct a review of the OF306 against the official completed SF86, SF85 and SF85P for the presence of discrepancies. The PSI-CoE will submit the OF306 to the OPM, as required.

Background: The OF306 is not required with investigation submissions via e-QIP for National Security Positions using the SF86. This means that any investigation submitted on the SF86 via e-QIP does not require an OF306 to accompany it unless there are discrepancies between the information on the OF306 and the information on the SF86. This change in procedure is permissible because all the questions on the OF306, such as questions relating to criminal history, employment history and federal debt, were incorporated into the July 2008 e-QIP version of the SF86. If there are any discrepancies between the OF306 and the SF86, the PSI-CoE must submit both forms. If there are no discrepancies the OF306 is not required to be submitted with the SF86. Hard-copy submissions of the SF86 must include the OF306.

When is an OF306 required?

For civilian new hires or those with less than 5 years of continuous federal service, the OF306 is required for all initial investigation requests. For the SF86, if any discrepancies are found, the OF306 will be required for e-QIP submission.

For contractors, investigations requested on the SF85 require the applicant to answer specific questions found on the OF306: 1, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, and 17a. The OF306 may be used or the specific questions and answers may be provided on an attachment. Please review the Forms Required to Request Investigations in PSIP for more information. The security office or subject (contractor) may provide this form directly to the PSI-CoE.

Who is responsible for sending in the resume/application and OF306 to PSI-CoE?

Civilian New Hires: The requestor is responsible for providing the resume/application and OF306 to the PSI-CoE. The resume submitted must be the resume that was used during the hiring process. It is recommended that the request is not submitted via PSIP until you have the completed resume and OF306.

Contractors: The security office or subject (contractor) may provide the form/information to the PSI-CoE. 

When should the resume and OF306 be sent to PSI-CoE?

Resume and OF306 forms should be e-mailed or faxed to the PSI-CoE or uploaded through PSIP. The PSI-CoE will match the documents with the request. It is recommended that the request is not submitted via PSIP until you have the completed resume and OF306.

How is the resume and OF306 matched with the e-QIP?

The PSI-CoE will associate the forms with the subject’s file prior to uploading to OPM.

The subject desires to send in supporting documentation to some of the Yes/No questions. When is the best time to submit these documents?

Supporting documentation is not a required element to the investigation submission. If the subject desires to still submit supporting documentation, it can be uploaded to the PSIP request, faxed or e-mailed to the PSI-CoE. The PSI-CoE will transmit the documentation to OPM with the other required forms.

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Can a local security office view the SF8x in e-QIP while it is being processed?

The SF8x forms are restricted to view by the applicant and the PSI-CoE.

What if the individual is unavailable to complete the e-QIP?

If the subject will not be available for at least 5 days following the PSIP request due to TDY, leave, etc., please defer the request until the subject is available to complete their forms.

Is the medical release form required if Section 21 is No?

The medical release form is not required if Section 21 is answered No.

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Fingerprints & Release Pages

What constitutes a properly completed (manual) fingerprint card?

In order to properly complete fingerprint cards, reference the Guidelines for Completing Fingerprint Cards.  If the card has discrepancies or omissions, this will delay scheduling of the investigation at OPM.

When is a subject required to submit fingerprint cards?

Fingerprint cards are required for all initial investigations.

When submitting Electronic Fingerprints (EFP), what SOI should be used?

The SOI that is associated with the electronic machine should be used. Please do not change the SOI. If the SOI is changed, the prints will not be processed although it will appear to have been transmitted successfully. The fingerprints will be matched to the e-QIP investigation record by the individual’s name and SSN.

Why are requesters being asked to re-fax signature/release pages?

On occasion, faxes or scans can be difficult to read, come through blank, or have missing text, etc, requiring the fax or e-mail to be resent. The PSI-CoE also accepts forms via direct upload in PSIP. Scanned documentation can be e-mailed to Faxes can be sent to Faxed to 410-306-0413/DSN 458-0413 or 410-306-3858/DSN 458-3858.

E-QIP will create a fax cover sheet including a barcode that is used during Step 4 of the EQIP release process. This fax number does not fax directly to the PSI-CoE. Be sure to follow all listed instructions for Step 4 in E-QIP when using this fax cover sheet.

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