Security clearance forms go online

Office of Personnel Management

The Office of Personnel Management announced the launch Thursday of a new online procedure designed to bring a welcome change to the tedious process of completing security clearance forms.

Standard Forms 86 (SF-86) and 86C (SF-86C) are available online for the first time. Both forms can be found electronically at a website set up and managed by OPM, as part of the electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing, or e-QIP, program.

To access the site, federal government applicants, along with current employees applying for a transfer, must receive a password from the government agency to which they are applying.

Having the forms available online should help streamline a process that could take hours to complete, OPM officials said. A distinct advantage of the e-QIP system is the online availability of the SF-86C, a two-page form that in most cases allows existing federal employees to simply update their most recently completed SF-86 forms without redoing the entire 13-page form.

With SF-86C, individuals can indicate that they have no changes in the data provided on their most recently filled SF-86, or where there are changes, to simply provide the updated information. In theory, this will reduce the time needed to file security clearance forms from hours down to minutes.

"This will help relieve the bottleneck that exists in the security clearance process and will result in enhanced national security. This step is key to moving the clearance process for the Federal Government squarely into the 21st Century," said OPM director Kay Cole James in a statement.

Another advantage of the system will be the ability of current employees to go online and revise their information as needed. This will be especially helpful for individuals wishing to transfer, or for those undergoing periodic reinvestigations for high-level security clearances.

According to agency officials, OPM hopes to save over $258 million over the next 10 years through the development of the electronic system, largely in the reduced costs of storing paper documents and supplying the applications in paper form.

By launching the online versions, the office has met the next step in the President's e-Clearance initiative, a part of the e-Government initiative contained in the President's Management Agenda.

"The e-Clearance initiative will eliminate unnecessary and duplicative paperwork, reduce the burden on people we want to bring into the federal government, cut time involved in processing clearances while preserving the integrity of our investigations and free up personnel security resources to focus where it counts," James stated.

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