National Name Check Program
Mission: The National Name Check Program (NNCP) disseminates information from FBI files in response to name check requests received from federal agencies, including components within the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of the federal government, for the purpose of protecting the United States from foreign and domestic threats to national security.
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: Many federal agencies 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, immigration benefits, naturalization, or a visa to visit the United States. More than 50 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 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.
How long will it take for my name check to be completed?
The length of time it takes for a name check to be completed varies from name to name. Currently, the NNCP receives over 65,000 name checks every week, with about 50 percent coming from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). When the name checks are submitted, the names are electronically checked against the FBI’s Central Records System (CRS). The searches seek all instances of the individual’s name appearing in FBI files. Individuals named or mentioned in FBI files may be subjects of FBI investigations, conspirators, associates, witnesses, etc.
The majority of name checks submitted are electronically checked and returned to the submitting agency as having “no record.” A “no record” indicates that the FBI’s CRS contains no identifiable information regarding a particular individual. Duplicate submissions (i.e., identically spelled names with identical dates of birth submitted within the last 60 days) are not checked, and the duplicate findings are returned immediately to the submitting agency.
A secondary manual search of residuals from the original run is conducted and identifies an additional number of names as a “no record” response. The remaining name checks (usually about 9 percent of the name checks originally submitted) are identified as possibly being the subject of an FBI record. At that point, the FBI record must be retrieved and reviewed. If the record is available in the FBI’s electronic recordkeeping system, it can be reviewed quickly. If not, the relevant information must be retrieved from an existing paper record. Review of this information determines whether the information is positively identified with the name check request. If the information is not identified with the request, the request is closed as a “no record” and the requesting agency is notified as such.
The average time required to retrieve and review an FBI record for possible information related to a name check request is case specific—it depends on the number of files an analyst must obtain (which is dictated by the number of “hits” on a name), the location and availability of those files, and the amount of information contained in a file. If a file is stored locally, an analyst will be able to obtain the file within a matter of days. If a file is located in a field office or other FBI location, the applicable information must be requested from that location. There are over 265 different FBI locations that could house information pertinent to a name check request. If a file is electronically available, an analyst will have immediate access to that file. Additionally, once an analyst receives the file or the pertinent information contained in a file, the analyst must review it for possible information related to the name check request.
If applicable, the FBI then forwards a summary of the reportable information to the requesting agency. It is important to note that the FBI does not adjudicate the name check requests, but only provides available information to a requesting agency for its adjudication process.
How can I have my name check expedited?
The FBI tries to process its oldest name checks first. Customer agencies will occasionally request expedited handling of specific name checks. Criteria used to determine which name checks receive expedited handling are internal matters of each customer agency. The FBI does request that the number of expedited cases be kept to a minimum in fairness to the other pending name check requests. Only customer agencies may request to expedite name checks. Individuals should not contact the NNCP seeking to have their name check expedited.
Does contacting my Congressional representative expedite my name check?
No, the customer agency determines expedited handling. The FBI’s policy is to be responsive to our customers’ needs, given the limits of our resources. Reprioritization from multiple sources would convolute the customer agency’s ability to manage their priority cases.
Is there a fee I can pay to expedite the process?
No. Processing times are a function of the volume of work versus the resources that can be applied to the task. Paying an additional fee would not speed up the name check process.
My Freedom of Information/Privacy Act request to the FBI resulted in a “no record” response. Given that, why is my name check request still pending?
Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FOIPA) requests are sometimes confused with name check requests. FOIPA provides copies of FBI files relevant to a specific FOIPA request. For FOIPA, the FBI search uses the name or information as provided in the FOIPA request. A FOIPA search determines whether there is an investigative file associated with an individual—a main file search. For a name check, in an effort to protect our national security, all files are checked in addition to searching a name in a multitude of combinations.
Who can I call to check on the status of my name check?
The FBI will only respond to status inquiries from its customer agencies. Please contact the organization receiving your original application. In citizenship and immigration cases, please contact the USCIS for the status.
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.
Name Check Program Processing Volumes: The volume of name checks processed varies from year to year.
Processed Name Checks:
|FY 2011||FY 2012||FY 2013||FY 2014||FY 2015|
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 Government Information Specialist (GIS) searches the subject provided in the FOI/PA request against records maintained by the FBI. If responsive information is located, a FOI/PA GIS 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. For more information on FOI/PA requests, please visit the FBI Records/FOIA webpage.
Major Contributing Agencies: The FBI’s NNCP Section provides services to more than 50 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 (USCIS) — 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 (OPM) — Submits name check requests in order to determine an individual’s suitability and eligibility in seeking employment with the federal government.
- Department of State (DOS) — 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.
NNCP vs. CJIS: If criminal history record information and/or fingerprint identification is needed, please contact the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS).
NNCP Contact Information: If you are an existing NNCP customer and have questions about additional services, or would like to become an NNCP customer, please call 540-868-4399 or send an email to HQ-DIV17-NNCP-CUSTOMER@ic.fbi.gov. Please remember NNCP only conducts name checks for federal agencies. If you would like to know the status of your name check request, please contact the requesting agency such as USCIS, OPM, DOS, etc. It should be noted, the NNCP has no role in the adjudication process; it merely reports the results of its search to the requesting agency and that agency determines how the information is used.