National Name Check Program
Mission: The mission of the National Name Check Program (NNCP) is to disseminate information from FBI files in response to name check requests received from federal agencies, including offices within the FBI; components within the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of the federal government; and friendly foreign police and intelligence agencies for the purpose of protecting the United States from espionage and terrorism.
Authority: The NNCP has its genesis in Executive Order 10450, issued during the Eisenhower Administration. This executive order addresses personnel security issues and mandates National Agency Checks (NACs) as part of the pre-employment vetting and background investigation process. The FBI is part of the NACs conducted on all U.S. government employees.
Purpose: Customers seek background information from FBI files before bestowing a privilege—whether that privilege is government employment or an appointment, a security clearance, attendance at a White House function, issuance of immigration benefits, naturalization, or a visa to visit the United States. More than 70 agencies regularly request FBI name checks. In addition to serving federal government customers, the NNCP conducts numerous name searches in direct support of the counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and homeland security efforts of the FBI.
Function: The employees of the NNCP review and analyze potential identifiable documents to determine whether a specific individual has been the subject of or mentioned in any FBI investigation(s), and if so, what (if any) relevant information may be disseminated to the requesting agency. It is important to note that the FBI does not adjudicate the final outcome; it just reports the results to the requesting agency.
Source of Data: The NNCP conducts manual and electronic searches of the FBI’s Central Records System (CRS). The CRS encompasses the centralized records of FBI Headquarters, field offices, and legal attaché offices, as well as all investigative, administrative, personnel, and general files.
NNCP Process Step-by-Step:
- Agency/entity submits name checks to the FBI’s NNCP for processing.
- Electronic “batch” submissions are searched against the Universal Index (UNI) and the Electronic Case File (ECF) databases. The majority of the batch names are electronically returned as “no record” within 48-72 hours. A “no record” indicates that the databases contain no identifiable information regarding a particular individual. UNI and ECF are searched for main files (files where the name of an individual is the subject of an FBI investigation) and for reference files (files where the name being searched is merely mentioned in an investigation).
- A secondary manual search of residuals from the batch run identifies an additional number of names as a “no record” response.
- The remaining paper files and/or electronic files are reviewed to determine if further information can be tied to the subject and if additional analysis is required.
- Identifiable files are then analyzed for relevant or derogatory information that may be disseminated to the requesting agency/entity. Approximately 1 percent of the requests are determined to contain possible derogatory information. If applicable, the NNCP forwards a summary of the information to the submitting agency/entity.
- The NNCP has no role in adjudication; it merely reports the results of its search to the requesting agency and that agency determines how the information is used.
Name Check Program Processing Volumes: The volume of name checks processed varies from year to year. Prior to fiscal year (FY) 2008, the NNCP had substantial backlogs and delays. The NNCP strives to process the majority of requests within 30 days, with the remaining requests processed within 90 days.
|Processed Name Checks:|
|FY 2007||FY 2008||FY 2009||FY 2010||FY 2011
Quality Reviews: Facilitating the NNCP’s goal of processing requests in a timely manner is a quality verification process designed to ensure a comprehensive review of the NNCP’s operation and products. This Quality Assurance Plan (QAP) is based upon ISO 9001:2001 and Lean Six Sigma methodologies supplemented with internal policies, support resources, processes, management controls, and product specific requirements.
Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FOI/PA) vs. Name Check: Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FOI/PA) requests are sometimes confused with name check requests. FOI/PA provides copies of FBI information relevant to a specific FOI/PA request submitted by members of the public. For FOI/PA requests, an FBI FOI/PA analyst searches the subject provided in the FOI/PA request against records maintained by the FBI. If responsive information is located, a FOI/PA analyst reviews the information and makes a determination of releasability based on FOIA exemptions and Privacy Act laws. A FOI/PA search determines whether there is an investigative file associated with an individual—a “main file” search. For a name check, “main files” and “reference files” are both checked, in addition to searching a name in a multitude of combinations.
Major Contributing Agencies: The FBI’s NNCP Section provides services to more than 70 federal government agencies and entities. Although most name checks are conducted for each agency on a first-come, first-served basis, the contributing agency determines the order of resolution for priority, project, or expedited cases. The following are the major contributing agencies to the NNCP:
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services—Submits name check requests on individuals applying for the following benefits: asylum, adjustment of status to legal permanent resident, naturalization, and waivers.
- Office of Personnel Management—Submits name check requests in order to determine an individual’s suitability and eligibility in seeking employment with the federal government.
- Department of State—Submits FBI name check requests on individuals applying for visas. Not all visa matters require FBI name checks.
- In addition to serving federal government customers, the NNCP also conducts name checks on an as requested basis for special events such as the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, and PGA tournaments, to name a few.