Innovative approach increases polygraph efficiency

  • Published
  • By Wayne Amann
  • AFOSI Public Affairs

Over the years, the administrative data needed to give just one polygraph examination had increased to the point it became cumbersome, time intensive and often led to delays in processing Air Force Office of Special Investigations files.

Recognizing this directly hindered conducting polygraph examinations, the AFOSI 2nd Field Investigations Squadron Polygraph Office, Joint Base Andrews, Md., did something innovative about it.

Their initiative directly supports the Secretary of the Air Force Lines of Effort targeting Cost-Effective Modernization and to Drive Innovation.  

Specifically, the 2 FIS team developed and implemented an automated prescreening tool that identified 10 percent of total polygraph requests as invalid. This saved the organization nearly $20,000 in travel funds that would have been spent conducting unnecessary examinations. By using off-the-shelf-commercial technology, this effort cost zero dollars to go operational and maintain.  

Prior to this tool, very specific information for each exam was needed to comply with a variety of rules, instructions and federal guidance. Examiners relied on an extensive pre-examination interview to collect this information. Often, examiners had to pull information from emails, telephone conversations and military orders to create the proper justification for an employee’s polygraph.

“We had several ideas but none solved our economy of time issue,” said Special Agent Clifford Minor, 2 FIS Regional Polygraph Office Supervisor. “Then, SA Michael Lee suggested using the Air Force Portal’s built-in features to survey people about to take a polygraph exam. He called AF Portal support and validated our ability to use the site. We completed the training and created the first portal site for the Air Force Polygraph Program.”

The survey saved hours of admin time for all polygraph flights in the command. After several months in use, its accessibility needed to expand from just Air Force employees to the DOD.

SA Minor created a polygraph support site on AFOSI’s internal SharePoint, which familiarized him how to structure the site and use permissions to protect information.

“(SA) Mike (Lee) and I created the Air Force Polygraph Intelink Site, which has prescreened more than 1,000 DOD members,” SA Minor said. “The tool now feeds into a massive DOD SharePoint site where security managers, intelligence units and special security officers can list their requirements.”

AFOSI reviews the pre-screens and lists approval or denial of individual security polygraph requests. Using the new, prescreening tool has other tangible advantages.

Examiners can now focus on the primary purpose of their specialty – interviewing and resolving allegations for the command, instead of collecting time-intensive administrative data.

Before the examination, employees spend a few minutes answering questions generally leading to shorter examinations. They’re also informed on factors making for a successful polygraph interview.

AFOSI now has a database of security issues used to track trends.

Twenty factors required in approving an exam have been condensed to a comprehensive online questionnaire.

People who honestly disclose minor security infractions up front have a place to report violations before the exam.

AFOSI can inform requestors if additional steps are needed to conduct the examination.

This more efficient process reduces the overall need to send Personal Identifiable Information to various people to request security exam approval, from multiple times to once.     

Approval time between the field and headquarters for a typical exam request has been reduced. Examiners can transmit the prescreening forms to another office by clicking a button.

Standing requirements can be viewed from any computer at all 2 FIS polygraph supported locations.

Any DOD employee with an active Common Access Card can access the URL: . Once logged on, “USAF Polygraph Program Page” will appear. Scroll down and click “Polygraph Prescreening & Request Link,” and follow the instructions.

The AFOSI Polygraph Offices are responsible for specific geographical areas. A color-coded map on the Prescreening and Request Page can assist users in sending their requests to the proper office globally.      

Since the tool’s inception, reaction has been every bit encouraging.

“Response has been overwhelmingly positive,” SA Minor said. “We incorporated a feedback system into the process to track the overall impression of the user. Customers like the accountability and our program leadership likes the data consistency the survey provides.”