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National Name Check Program
Mission: The National Name Check Program's (NNCP’s) mission is to disseminate information from FBI files in response to name check requests received from federal agencies including internal offices within the FBI; components within the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of the federal government; foreign police and intelligence agencies; and state and local law enforcement agencies within the criminal justice system.
Purpose: The NNCP has its genesis in Executive Order 10450, issued during the Eisenhower Administration. This executive order addresses personnel security issues, and mandated National Agency Checks (NACs) as part of the pre-employment vetting and background investigation process. The FBI is a primary NAC conducted on all U.S. government employees. Since September 11th, name check requests have grown, with more and more customers seeking background information from FBI files on individuals before bestowing a privilege—whether that privilege is government employment or an appointment, a security clearance, attendance at a White House function, a Green card or naturalization, admission to the bar, or a visa for the privilege of visiting our homeland. More than 70 federal and state agencies regularly request FBI name checks. In addition to serving federal, state, and local government customers, the NNCP conducts numerous name searches in direct support of the counterintelligence, counterterrorism, 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) Universal Index (UNI). The CRS encompasses the centralized records of FBI Headquarters, field offices, and Legal Attache offices. The CRS contains all FBI investigative, administrative, personnel, and general files.
NNCP Process Step-by-Step:
- Agency/entity submission to the FBI’s NNCP. Submissions are accepted via magnetic tape, hard copy, telephone, or fax.
- Electronic “batch” submissions are searched against the UNI. The majority of the batch names are electronically returned as “no record” with 48-72 hours. A “no record” indicates that the UNI database contains no identifiable information regarding a particular individual. The UNI is 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 just 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 ensure they are germane to the name check request.
- 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.
Growth of the Name Check Program: Post September 11, 2001, the number of incoming name checks has increased to above pre-9/11 levels:
Incoming Name Checks:
FY 01 2,771,241 FY 02 3,288,018 FY 03 6,309,346 FY 04 3,884,467 FY 05 3,346,435
Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FOIPA) vs. Name Check: Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts (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, “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, state, and local governments and entities. Although most name checks are conducted for each agency on a first-in, first-out basis, the contributing agency determines the order of resolution for priority, project, or expedite 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 checks 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. [http://www.fbi.gov/hq/nationalnamecheck.htm Official Description