​For Applicants & Employees​ - DPSAC Process Overview


Once the AO sponsors a request in NED and, if applicable, DIS validation has been completed (for non-immigrant foreign nationals), DPSAC will then be able to begin the Prescreening process. ​Please not​​​​e that the DPSAC average processing time from the beginning of Administrative Sponsorship to Badge Authorization is approximately 30 days for candidates without issues during Prescreening. However, this is subject to your timely response to DPSAC requests sent via email.

To prevent delays to your Prescreening process, please complete the initial prescreening requirements within 7 days once you receive emails from DPSAC to begin Prescreening. This includes completing your eApp and OF-306 (unless already completed in Onboarding manager for federal employees) and scheduling initial fingerprint appointment for Prescreening.​​ 

Please note that you must bring two forms of valid government identification, one of which must contain a picture, to you Prescreening appointment. Visit FIPS 201-3 PDF​​ to view a complete list of approved identification documents.​​

Please read the Q&A below for more details on what the Prescreening process includes.

What is Prescreening?

Prescreening is the process of collecting preliminary information, such as fingerprints, background information and forms, to determine if an individual is eligible to receive an NIH badge or to occupy their position at NIH. Before issuing an NIH badge and before ‘clearing’ anyone for employment at NIH, DPSAC conducts Prescreening.                                     

Why does DPSAC conduct Prescreening and background investigations?

DPSAC's goal is to ensure, from a preliminary sense, that individuals are not going to pose a risk to the life, safety or health of NIH staff or assets. Prescreening ensures all candidates are properly vetted and “cleared" prior to being issued a final employment offer and/or before being granted physical & logical access to NIH.                                     

When does DPSAC begin Prescreening?

DPSAC prescreening begins once Administrator Sponsorship and NIH Division of International Services (DIS) Validation (for Foreign Nationals) are completed in NED (must include receipt of SSN). You must complete Prescreening in order for you to be considered for a badge or to be authorized for Entry on Duty (EOD). As noted, DPSAC does not receive non-immigrant FNs’ cases until DIS validates employment eligibility.                                    

How long does DPSAC Prescreening Take?

DPSAC allots 7 days for applicants to complete the prescreening requirements; which is well above the public burden estimation. ​​   

The average timeframe for the DPSAC prescreening process is about 30 days from the date the badge is sponsored in the NED system, to the date the badge is authorized. This timeframe is mutually dependent the applicant and DPSACs prompt completion of actionable items. This timeframe does not include:

    • Additional time required for DIS to complete employment authorization after badge sponsorship 
    • Corrections required on applicant-submitted information 
    • Applicant delay in completing requirements or providing requested corrections to documents 
    • Applicants who are not able to travel to an NIH or Field Print location to complete their fingerprinting 
    • Issues that arise on the applicants paperwork that require mitigation  


Estimated Public Burden Information   

The amount of time it takes applicants to complete the prescreening forms depends on the investigation type they are completing and the applicants personal background (such as employment, residential and educational history, etc.). Here, DCSA provides the estimated public burden information within the instructions for each of the investigation standard forms: 

  • Standard Form 85, 85P and 86:
    • Public Burden reporting for this collection of information is estimated to average 155 minutes per response, including time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. 
    • DPSAC finds that most applicants are able to complete the eApp background investigation questionnaire and forms in under 24 hours; usually between 30 minutes and 3 hours. If additional time is needed to collect information needed for the questionnaire, this can add to the total. 
  • OF-306 Declaration for Federal EmploymentPublic burden reporting for this collection of information is estimated to vary from 5 to 30 minutes with an average of 15 minutes per response, including time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information.   
  • Fingerprinting/Enrollment Service: around 20 minutes   
Why must I complete the DPSAC prescreening requirements within 7 days of notice?

You must complete all DPSAC Prescreening requirements within 7 days of notice, to the greatest extent possible, to avoid delays. If not, the case can be delayed beyond normal processing times.           

    • ​​eApp (if required): The eApp questionnaire is an extensive questionnaire that often requires back and forth correction requests from our office. Delays to submit the initial eApp within 7 days of notice is one of the largest contributors to significant Prescreening delays. Please read each question and all instructions carefully and provide exactly what is requested. Visit our All About eApp page for more information on how to fill this out correctly.
    • Resume: If DPSAC does not receive your resume within 7 days, and if DPSAC detects a break in federal service of 24 ​​months or more since your last completed investigation (if applicable), then a new investigation will be required, which will add an additional 7-14 days of processing time before your badge can be authorized.
    • OF-306: If you do ​not submit your OF-306 within 7 days of notice, the case can be delayed beyond normal processing times, especially if corrections are required.
    • Crossmatch/Prescreening Fingerprints: If the P​​rescreening fingerprint appointment is not scheduled within 7 days of notice, at a minimum, the case can be delayed beyond normal processing time, as DPSAC cannot make a determination without your fingerprints. For more information, please visit our Fingerprint Services page.

Note: If suitability issues are disclosed/developed on prescreening paperwork, these will take additional time to mitigate.       

What does the entire Prescreening process entail?
  1. A check of federal investigation databases to determine if the individual has a suitable investigation that meets/exceeds NIH requirement.
    • If no, DPSAC will initiate eApp for new Background Investigation & Prescreen.
    • If yes, DPSAC will Prescreen & apply reciprocal acceptance criteria.
  2. Collection and review of the following:
    • Electronic Questionnaires for Background Investigation Process (eApp) - If required (which it is in most cases), candidates must fill out this background investigation questionnaire. Please have candidates visit our All About eApp page for more information on how to fill this out correctly.
    • Resume/Employment history - This is needed as DPSAC checks for any break in service. Failure to provide this can result in significant delays as any missing information are immediate red flags.
    • OF-306 Declaration for Federal Employment - New federal applicants must have an OF-306 completed in USA Staffing Onboarding system for DPSAC to complete Prescreening. Additionally, the Selective Service Registration must be completed. If the candidate was required to register for Selective Service but the candidate answered "no" to registering, their case will be sent back to HR. 
    • Crossmatch/Prescreening Fingerprints - DPSAC has the Crossmatch fingerprinting capability at our Main Office, located in Bethesda, Maryland. DPSAC can also collect Crossmatch fingerprints remotely using a Third-Party service called Fieldprint. Please note that Crossmatch fingerprints should not be confused with fingerprints collected for “Badge Enrollment," which is an entirely separate process. For more information, please visit our Fingerprint Servicespage.
    • Other sources of suitability information if required - If applicable, this may include court documentation for criminal history, additional employment history information, federal debt delinquency paperwork, ink fingerprint cards and state forms for childcare law checks, etc.
  3. As the individual submits the above documentation, DPSAC will review documents for completeness. If corrections are required, DPSAC staff will contact the individual through email.
What emails can I expect to receive and when from the DPSAC office regarding their prescreening requirements?

Applicants can expect to receive the following emails from DPSAC once their badge is sponsored. As stated in the earlier steps, non-immigrant foreign nationals will need to be validated by the NIH Division of International Services (DIS) after Badge Sponsorship, prior to DPSAC processing.

The requirements outlined in these emails must be competed in order for applicants to receive/retain their PIV Badge: ​​

What happens after all Prescreening documentation are collected? How does DPSAC review these documents?

Once all a candidate submits all Prescreening documentation, DPSAC will review and conduct issue mitigation (if applicable) and make a prescreening determination on the candidate's eligibility for NIH employment and/or NIH PIV/RLA badge:         

    • If DPSAC's prescreening and suitability determination is found to be favorable, DPSAC will aut​horize PIV Badge and Prescreening Clearance for Entry on Duty (EOD).​​​
    • If DPSAC's prescreening and suitability determination is found to be unfavorable, DPSAC will alert the candidate and notify the program office that the candidate was not eligible for a PIV/RLA badge. The program office will be recommended to withdraw the candidate's employment offer due to ineligibility for a position at NIH and for issuance of a PIV/RLA badge. The badge will be revoked in conjunction with the unsuitable determination and associated action.

In cases where a new background investigation is required, DPSAC makes what is called an "interim" PIV/RLA badge issuance determination (utilizing HSPD-12 credentialing standards) based on the preliminary documents received during Prescreening.

    • ​This means that the candidate’s badge is issued on an "interim" basis, pending ​​the results of the background investigation and suitability adjudication. 
    • A final determination on the candidate’s badge eligibility and/or suitability for NIH em​​ployment will be made based on the results of the background investigation completed by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA). This final determination can take several months to be completed. 
    • Non-Responsive Applicants: If a candidate does not respond or fails to complete the requested prescreening items in the allotted time, DPSAC will find the individual ineligible for issuance of a PIV/RLA badge due to failure to complete federally mandated prescreening requirements. DPSAC provides ample reminders and warnings, and will also escalate to the Administrative Officer, Supervisor and/or Project Officer if the candidate is not responsive.

Final Notes

Please note that DPSAC will need to adjudicate any issues that are discovered during the prescreening process before the badge can be issued; this may require additional processing time. To make PIV card eligibility determinations, DPSAC utilizes federal guidelines including, but not limited to:

  • Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 (HSPD-12)
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Federal Information Process Standard 201-2 Personal Identity Verification (PIV) of Federal Employees and Contractors  
  • Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) HSPD-12 Credentialing Standards  
  • Title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 731

Please visit our Policy page for more information on what polices drive the Personnel Security process.