What is Adjudication?

Adjudication is the evaluation of duly authorized personnel vetting information that is relevant and reliable, to determine whether a person [who performs or seeks to perform work for, or on behalf of, the Executive Branch, not including the President, the Vice President, or their respective Employees except as provided by 3 USC or annual appropriations acts] is: (1) suitable for government employment; (2) eligible for Logical and/or Physical Access; (3) eligible for Access to Classified Information; (4) eligible to hold a Sensitive Position; or (5) fit to perform work for or on behalf of the government as a Contractor Employee. Department of Defense adjudication is performed by trained/certified specialists in accordance with National and DoD policies.   

Who Benefits from the Adjudication Process?

Adjudications customer base includes all military service members, military applicants, civilian employees, and consultants affiliated with the Department of Defense (DOD), to include the staff of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the Congressional Budget Office, the United States Capitol Police, selected judicial staff, DOD personnel at the White House, and contractor personnel under the National Industrial Security Program (NISP).

How Does the Adjudication Process Work?

The adjudication process is based on decisions made by applying a standard set of guidelines to an individual’s specific circumstances. Trained adjudicators assess an individual's loyalty, trustworthiness, and reliability and determine whether it is in the best interest of national security to grant the individual an eligibility for access to classified information or render a favorable suitability determination.

Clearance Eligibility Levels

  • (C) Confidential

  • (S) Secret

  • (TS) Top Secret

Key Determinations

  • Security Clearance Eligibility: A determination that a person is able and willing to safeguard classified national security information and/or occupy a national security sensitive position. Standard Forms are used governmentwide for various employment and benefits program purposes. Military members, federal employees, or contractors who require access to classified national security information and/or assignment to a national security position must be granted security clearance eligibility at the proper level to access that information or occupy the national security sensitive position.

  • National Security Determinations: National security determinations are governed by the principles established by Executive Order 12968 adjudicative guidelines are established by Security Executive Agent Directive 4.

  • Suitability/Fitness: Suitability refers to a person's character or conduct that may have an impact on the integrity or efficiency of the individual’s government service. Suitability adjudicative determinations are in accordance with Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 731. Fitness determinations are made under separate guidelines determined by the entities making the decisions.

  • Fitness: Fitness refers to the adjudicative decision made on excepted service, contractor, and other federal personnel working for or on behalf of the federal government. These adjudicative guidelines are like suitability guidelines but governed by different regulations. Instead of being governed by Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 731 (5 CFR 731), fitness determinations are made under separate guidelines determined by the entities making the decisions.

Appealing a Denied Security Clearance

An individual who has received a final revocation or denial of their security clearance from the DCSA Adjudication and Vetting Services (AVS) may appeal a decision through the Personnel Security Appeals Board (PSAB) of the associated military service branch or the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA), the legal entity managing the case. Specific guidance for appealing a decision is provided directly to the applicants within the final decision packages.


An individual’s employer may submit a request for reconsideration if there is a need for access to classified information one year from the final decision. The year is counted from the date of the denial or revocation decision by the DCSA Adjudication and Vetting Services, or if the individual elected to appeal, one year from the date of the final appeal determination.
The individual is responsible for providing documentation that the circumstances or conditions which resulted in the denial or revocation have been rectified or sufficiently mitigated to warrant reconsideration.

DCSA Adjudication and Vetting Services may approve or deny the reconsideration request.

For further guidance on reconsiderations, contact the employing security office.

Requesting Adjudicative Records

The DCSA Privacy, Civil Liberties, and FOIA Program is responsible for responding to Privacy Act requests for DCSA Adjudication and Vetting Services Adjudicative records.
How To Request:
If you are affiliated with DCSA Adjudication and Vetting Services and are seeking security clearance eligibility or employment determinations, or if you are seeking a copy of your Adjudications records, please visit the DCSA Privacy, Civil Liberties, and FOIA Program for mailing and contact information.

Additional Resources

SMO/FSO Guidance:

The servicing SMO/FSO initiates the process for the applicant to submit a Questionnaire for National Security Positions Standard Form via the online eApp portal.

Related Policies:

Executive Order 12968: Access to Classified Information
Executive Order 10865: Safeguarding Classified Information within Industry
DoD Directive 5220.6: Defense Industrial Personnel Security Clearance Review Program
DoD Manual 5200.02: Procedures for the DoD Personnel Security Program