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A background investigation is

[a]n official inquiry into the activities of a person designed to develop information from a review of the records, one or more interviews of the subject, and interviews of people having knowledge of the subject.[1]

U.S. federal government[]

A background investigation is

[a] personnel investigation conducted to meet the requirements of EO 10450 and, when applicable, EO 12968.[2]
[a] personnel security investigation consisting of both record reviews and interviews with sources of information covering the most recent 5 years of an individual's life, or since the 18th birthday, whichever is shorter, provided that at least 2 years are covered and that no investigation will be conducted prior to an individual's 16th birthday.[3]


  1. DOE Manual 470.4-7, at 3.
  2. Department of the Interior, Departmental Manual, Part 441, Chapter 1, §1.6(C) (Jan. 8, 2010).
  3. Glossary of Security Terms, Definitions, and Acronyms, at 20.