Personnel Security

The Personnel Security Staff of MRP-BS is responsible for collecting and reviewing all security clearance forms for accuracy. All appointments in the Federal Service require some level of background investigation, screening, and/or security clearance.

An Overview

The U.S. Government conducts background investigations and periodic reinvestigations to determine whether applicants or incumbents either employed by the Government or working for the Government under contract, are suitable to occupy a position and/or are eligible for access to classified information.

The Marketing and Regulatory Program managers and Human Resource personnel are responsible for determining the sensitivity of the Agency's positions and for ensuring that employees have the appropriate background investigation commensurate with the position and subsequent periodic reinvestigations.

This website provides helpful information about completing forms to ensure that the information you fill out can be processed as quickly and proficiently as possible.

Contact Us 

The Personnel Security Section of the Human Resources Office (HRO) in Minneapolis is responsible for collecting and reviewing the required forms for accuracy prior to forwarding them to the Department of Agriculture's Personnel Document and Security Division (PDSD) or the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). They are also responsible for the sponsorship and adjudication for the LincPass Credentialing process under HSPD-12. All inquiries can be made to Personnel Security Staff at:

Personnel Security Section
250 Marquette Ave STE 410
Minneapolis, MN 55401-2329

HR Personnel Security Service Providers

Non-Federal Background Investigations (i.e., Contractors, Affiliates, Collaborators, etc.)

Tiana Richardson (612) 336-3294 or

Executive Support and Leadership Services Branch
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Room 1726-South Building
Washington, DC 20250
(202) 690-2222 or (202) 720-3010 

Position Sensitivity Determinations for Background Investigation Requirements: 

Types of Positions (Position Sensitivity Designations)

Agencies are responsible for designating risk levels for every competitive service position within their agency. The Human Resources Classification Section of MRP-BS is responsible for making these determinations. Their determination is based on the position's documented duties and responsibilities.

The Personnel Security Section is then responsible for facilitating the process by which employees obtain the required background investigation and/or security clearance.

There are three categories of designations. Each position is designated at a low, moderate, or high risk level, depending on the position's potential for adverse impact to the integrity and efficiency of the service (5 CFR 731.106).

- Non-Sensitive, Low Risk Positions (LR): Positions which involve duties and responsibilities of limited relation to an agency or program mission, so the potential for impact on the integrity and efficiency of the service is limited. Employees whose positions have this designation are required to complete the SF-85, Questionnaire for Non-Sensitive Positions. (Positions with this designation are annotated with a "1" on the AD-332, Position Description Cover Sheet.)

- Public Trust Positions: Positions at the moderate or high risk levels are normally referred to as "Public Trust" positions. Such positions may involve policy making, major program responsibility, public safety and health, law enforcement duties, fiduciary responsibilities, or other duties demanding a significant degree of public trust; and positions involving access to or operation or control of financial records, with a significant risk for causing damage or realizing personal gain.

Employees whose positions have either a moderate or high risk designation are required to complete the SF-85P, Questionnaire for Public Trust Positions, on-line through OPM's e-QIP System.

- National Security Positions: Positions whose activities, duties, and responsibilities involve the nation's war and defense plans, foreign policy, or access to classified information. All positions with National Security duties and responsibilities must have a sensitivity level designation to assure the appropriate level of investigative screening is done to comply with E.O.10450 and E.O.12968. Consequently, a sensitivity level designation is based on an assessment of the degree of damage that an individual could cause to National Security.

There are three sensitivity levels:

Employees who occupy National Security positions are required to complete the SF-86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions, on-line through OPM's e-QIP System.

Special Note: National Security positions typically require periodic reinvestigations or renewal of clearance level. More information can be found at: "Periodic Reinvestigations"

What Type of Clearance Do I Need? 

The type of clearance required is based on various position sensitivity factors set forth by OPM. As a result of information presented in your position description (PD), the MRP-BS, HR Specialist in Classification makes a position sensitivity determination which is then annotated in Block 4 of Section C on the second page of your position's PD Cover Sheet (AD-332). These numbers correspond to the designated position sensitivity levels noted in the table found under Personnel Security Forms (Link to Form Below). Forms are then needed for initiating certain types of investigations based on these sensitivity determinations. 

Position Sensitivity Codes/Levels: Forms for Background Investigations:
1 - Non-Sensitive/Low Risk SF-85, two Fingerprint Cards: SF-87 or FD-258(1), OF-306, OF-612 or Resume and SF-86A (2), if necessary.
2 - Non-Critical Sensitive (National Security) SF-86, (completed through e-QIP only), two Fingerprint Cards: SF-87 or FD-258(1), OF-306, OF-612 or Resume, Fair Credit Reporting Form, USDA Justification Form (completed by Supervisor), and SF-86A (2), if necessary.
3 - Critical Sensitive (National Security)
4 - Special Sensitive (National Security)
5 - Moderate Risk (Public Trust) SF-85P, (completed through e-QIP only), two Fingerprint Cards: SF-87 or FD-258(1), OF-306, OF-612 or Resume, Fair Credit Reporting Form, and SF-86A (2), if necessary
6 - High Risk (Public Trust)

(1) Fingerprint Chart for Contractor (Non-Federal) employees only which can be obtained through GSA
(2) Form SF-86A is used as a continuation sheet for information on SF-85, SF-85P, or SF-86 Forms

Where/How Do I Get These Forms?

When you enter a Federal position your program administrative office will tell you which documents/forms are required. You will complete the following steps:

Step 1: Get your required forms from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management Website, or MRP-BS Personnel Office.
Step 2: If possible use one of the electronic versions of the forms. If not, complete the hard copy of the appropriate form using a black ballpoint pen or a typewriter.The SF-86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions, is now available through the on-line OPM e-QIP system. You must contact the MRP-BS Personnel Office for access rights to this secure Internet connection. Further information, including frequently asked questions (FAQs) can be found at e-QIP.
Step 3: If required, complete the Fair Credit Release Form and USDA Justification Form.
Step 4: Complete your SF-87 fingerprint cards (primarily for new employees unless otherwise instructed). Contact your program administrative office Servicing Personnel Office for information on where to get fingerprinted. Fingerprint Charts for Contractor (Non-Federal) employees only (FD-258) can be obtained through GSA.
Step 5: Complete an Optional Form 306 and a resume, OF-612 or SF-171.
Step 6: Some program administrative offices facilitate the mailing of the completed forms on your behalf. If yours does not, submit all forms to the Personnel Security Staff of MRP-BS. (See helpful hints to make sure you complete the forms correctly.)

All required forms noted below must be submitted to the following address and marked: 

Do NOT Open in Mail Room - To be Opened 

Personnel Security Section
250 Marquette Ave STE 410
Minneapolis, MN 55401-2329

Helpful Hints

Interim Security Clearance 

If deemed necessary and appropriate, the Department's Personnel Security Branch may be able to grant an interim (temporary) security clearance to an employee while his/her investigation is being processed at OPM. Interim clearances are granted in exceptional circumstances where official functions must be performed before completion of the investigative and adjudicative processes associated with the security clearance procedure.

There is no difference between an interim and a full security clearance as it relates to access to classified information. However, when such access is granted, the background investigation must be expedited (35-day) service. If potentially disqualifying information is developed at anytime, the interim security clearance may be withdrawn.

An interim security clearance will be granted by the Department under the following conditions:

1) a demonstrated, clearly identified need stated on the Justification for Requested Security Clearance form;
2) a favorable review of the SF-86;
3) the submission of an appropriate 35-day investigation request to OPM; and
4) the completion of a security indoctrination and signed SF-312, Nondisclosure Agreement.

A request for interim SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information) should be submitted only when there is an emergency or urgent operational requirement that necessitates indoctrination prior to the completion of the required investigation.


Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) is an automated system which allows applicants to electronically enter, update, and transmit their personal data over a secure Internet connection. Currently only employees/applicants required to complete the SF-86 Questionnaire are able to complete their form on-line.

Please note that you must be given access to the e-QIP Applicant Site by the MRP-BS Personnel Security Section prior to using the automated system.

Periodic Reinvestigations

A periodic reinvestigation is an update to a background investigation. Employees holding TOP SECRET, SECRET, and CONFIDENTIAL security clearances are subject to reinvestigation as follows:

Sensitivity/Clearance Level


Date Completed Reinvestigation Required
Non-Critical Sensitive w/Confidential Clearance


15 Years From the Closing Date of the Last Investigation
Non-Critical Sensitive w/Secret Clearance


10 Years From the Closing Date of the Last Investigation
Critical Sensitive w/either Secret or Top Clearance


5 Years From the Closing Date of the Last Investigation
Special Sensitive w/Top Secret Clearance


5 Years From the Closing Date of the Last Investigation


Reinvestigations on:

Coded on AD-332 as: 

Require the following forms:

National Security Positions


Updated SF-86 and the Fair Credit Form
National Security Positions


Updated SF-86 and the Fair Credit Form
National Security Positions


Updated SF-86 and the Fair Credit Form


Program Offices are also responsible for monitoring the expiration dates of their employees' investigations/security clearances and are tasked with making certain employees are notified in a timely manner to submit the required forms for reinvestigations. All forms must be submitted to the Minneapolis HR Classification and Personnel Security Section.

Clearance Process

The Minneapolis Personnel Security Staff reviews all security clearance forms for accuracy prior to initiating any background investigations for MRP employees through the Department and/or the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Upon completion of the investigations the Minneapolis HR Personnel Security Staff will then notify, in writing, the employee and their supervisor of the determination. Depending upon the level of clearance required, investigations can take anywhere from 2 to 3 months on up to a full year to complete.

For confidential, secret, or top secret security determinations, the employee must receive a security indoctrination (briefing) prior to being granted access to classified information.

There may be occasions when employees are required to attend classified meetings and briefings at other federal agencies or departments. Such employees will require certification of their security clearance to the agency or department visited. A Request for Passing Clearance Form must be completed and faxed to Department's Personnel Security Branch at 202-720-7708 at least 2 working days prior to the scheduled meeting or briefing.

Transferring Security Investigations 

Federal agencies will normally accept another agency's investigation as the basis for granting a security clearance. Also considered is whether there have been any significant changes in your situation since your last investigation. There may be additional investigative or adjudicative requirements that must be met prior to accepting a clearance granted by another agency. For further guidance you are encouraged to check with the Personnel Security Staff of MRP-BS.

Directives, Guides & Issuances 

Department of Agriculture, Personnel and Document Security Division

Code of Federal Regulations:

Executive Orders:

Other Links

Links to Forms