General FAQs

Q. Is VDSM a secret service?

A. While VDSM is often referred to as the Secret Service, it is not.  VDSM is the National Security Service which is responsible for safeguarding the national security of Sint Maarten. While some of the means used in order to achieve this are secret in nature, many are not.

Q. Can I provide important information to VDSM?

A. Yes. The community plays an important role in the gathering of information.  Many times, situations are discovered in time because citizens are paying attention.  Every citizen who gives information to VDSM is assured that we protect their identities.  This is regulated by law.

Q. What should I do if VDSM asks me for information?

A. It is possible that you may be contacted by VDSM with a request to help with a security screening for example.  A VDSM employee should present official VDSM identification when meeting you in person.  

Q. Can I visit VDSM's office?

A. A tour of VDSM's office is not possible. VDSM's office is a restricted area according to law.  

Q. What is so secret about VDSM?

A. Not everything about VDSM is secret. Efforts are made to be as open as possible.  Examples are our annual reports, publications and this website.  However not all information within VDSM can be publicly shared as this can put individuals in danger or expose ongoing investigations. VDSM employees have all taken an oath to secrecy and must adhere to strict confidentiality regulated by the National Ordinance of the National Security Service Sint Maarten.  

Q. Does VDSM monitor who visits its website?

A. The VDSM website is only an instrument of communication.  Therefore, website is not used for other purposes.

Q. Why can't I email VDSM?

A. Email traffic via internet is vulnerable due to the possibility of unwelcome others reading along.  This is why for now, we ask that you contact our office via telephone or by writing a letter.

Q. If everything is secret, is there any control over VDSM?

A. VDSM has a Supervisory Committee to which it is accountable.  Read our page on Supervision & Accountability for more details. 

Screening FAQs

Q. Why are Parliamentarians not screened?

A. VDSM cannot conduct a security screening for Parliamentarians.  A security screening can only be carried out for Positions of Confidentiality. The position of Parliamentarian is constitutionally not allowed to be designated as such. The integrity of the public sector under which Parliament falls is essential for the proper functioning of democracy. One of VDSM's duties is to protect the legal democratic order. However, when it comes to the selection and assembly of Members of Parliament, VDSM is not involved, in order that democracy can do its work.

Q. Is the screening of a candidate minister the same as a security screening?

A. No. The "screening" of a candidate minister is based on the National Appointment Decree and is in essence a fact-finding investigation. The security screening, however, is anchored in the National Ordinance Security Service and the National Decree Designation of Positions of Confidentiality, and entails other competencies that are not available during a fact finding investigation.

Q. How do I know if I have to undergo security screening?

A. Positions of Confidentiality are designated by national decree and are listed per sector and are listed in the National Decree Designation of Positions of Confidentiality. Your employer is responsible for informing you of the status of your function and for submitting the required documentation (application form & questionnaire) to VDSM. 

Q. I am already in my position; do I still have to undergo security screening?

A. Yes. It is possible that you are already in a Position of Confidentiality, but have not yet undergone a security screening. The National Decree Designation of Positions of Confidentiality came into effect on April 27, 2012. Since that time, VDSM has made concrete efforts to assure that persons holding these functions undergo a security screening. While VDSM has made headway, this is still an ongoing process. All individuals holding a position of confidentiality will eventually have undergone a security screening as required by law. 

Q. What methods are security screening officers allowed to use to gather information?

A. VDSM only uses general information gathering methods during a security screening. Tools such as telephone taps and surveillance of candidates are not allowed.

Q. How long is my Declaration of no Objection valid?

A. The Declaration of No Objection is in principle valid for five years, as long as you are working in the same Position of Confidentiality. A security screening will be conducted upon expiration in order to renew. VDSM reserves the right to start a repeat screening which can lead to the Minister withdrawing the Declaration of No Objection if there are any indications that you pose a threat to national security.

Q. How is my information handled by VDSM?

A. The Head of the Service provides for the confidentiality of information and sources providing for this. All personnel within VDSM involved in the handling of confidential information are required by law to protect the confidentiality thereof.

Q. Where can I find the correct questionnaire?

A. All questionnaires can be found on the Screenings page under Digital Forms

Q. How do I minimize the risk of my personal data being spread everywhere by viruses?

A. It is strongly advisable to scan your computer for viruses and spyware before you begin to complete the questionnaire. After completing the questionnaire do not e-mail the questionnaire.  This will minimize the risk of your personal data being spread everywhere by viruses.

Q. I can't open the questionnaire, what should I do?

A. Download the document before opening it by right clicking and selecting "save link/target as".

Q. How do I print out the form?

A. The form will only allow you to print after you have completely and correctly filled in the form.  When the form is complete there should be no remaining red question marks left.  You can then select your printer and the form will be printed.