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1. What is a security clearance?

In accordance with DoD Manual 5200.02, “Procedures for DoD Personnel Security Program (PSP),” a security clearance is a personnel security determination by competent authority that an individual is eligible for access to national security information. The individual must have both eligibility and a need for access to have a security clearance. Eligibility is granted by the adjudications facility, and the access is granted by the individual agencies.

2. Why is a security clearance required?

Pursuant to Executive Order 12968, as amended, individuals with a “need for access” and a “need to know,” in order to perform or assist in lawful and authorized government function, must receive a favorable personnel security determination.

3. How does the DOD CAF determine if an individual can granted eligibility or access to classified and /or sensitive information.

The DoD CAF determines eligibility in accordance with Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD) 4 “National Security Adjudicative Guidelines.”


The decision to grant or deny an individual an eligibility is based on a review of information that he or she supplies and information that is gathered during the background investigation and other available, reliable information. All the information, both positive and negative, is considered against a set of adjudicative guidelines, which are promulgated by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) as implementing documents for Executive Order 12968. Each guideline covers a broad security concern, the issues which may arise under that concern, and the information which may mitigate the security concern. Personnel security specialists receive training and certifications in making decisions based on the guidelines and must document what they considered in deciding whether or not to recommend granting eligibility to an individual

4. What is a "need for access"?

As defined in Executive Order 12968, as amended,“need for access’’ means a determination that an individual requires access to a particular level of classified information in order to perform or assist in a lawful and authorized governmental function.

5. What is a "need to know"?

As defined in Executive Order 12968, as amended, ‘‘need to know’’ means a determination made by an authorized holder of classified information that a prospective recipient requires access to specific classified information in order to perform or assist in a lawful and authorized governmental function.

6. Who conducts the investigation?

DCSA has the responsibility of conducting background investigations for over 100 federal agencies — approximately 95% of all background investigations government-wide.

7. Where can I get assistance completing my security clearace package or inquire about the status of my security clearance?

The Security Manager or designated representative should be your first contact for assistance in completing a security clearance package or inquiring into the status of a security clearance.

8. What does "No Determination Made" mean in JPAS?

“No determination made” means that there is inadequate information that prevents the DoD CAF from making a favorable adjudication clearance determination. There are several potential reasons for this determination, including the following:

  • When the investigation was requested, the command indicated "Access Level = 0,” meaning no access was required.
  • The individual is not a United States citizen.
  • Additional information was requested regarding an individual’s personnel security investigation, however no response to the investigation was received by the DoD CAF.

9. How do I initiate a required personal subject interview (PSI) for a subject who previously could not be interviewed due to deployment?

DCSA processes agency requests to re-open investigations and conduct Reimbursable Suitability/Security Investigations (RSI). 

  • A re-open applies to an investigation that has been closed with DCSA for a year or less and uses the DCSA's Federal Investigations Processing Center (FIPC) 553. The FIPC receives requests for investigation, processes the requests through an automated system, and serves as an entrance point for case-related and operational questions.
  • An RSI applies to all other investigations that remain within scope and have been closed with DCSA for more than a year and use the FIPC 554.
  • Either form can be submitted via the secure NP2 Portal.

Additional information about re-opens and RSIs can be found here.

10. How do I request an Interim Secret and Sensitive compartmented information (SCI) for military and civilian personnel?

The DoD CAF only grants Interim SCI in accordance with Intelligence Community Policy Guidance 704.1, “Personnel Security Investigative Standards and Procedures Governing Eligibility for Access to Sensitive Compartmented Information and other Controlled Access Program Information.” The following conditions and actions must be met for Interim SCI consideration:

  • The subject must have a Tier-5 investigation scheduled (OPEN) with DCSA.
  • The request must include completed Standard Form 86 (SF-86), to include all signature pages/releases.
  • The request must include Personnel Screening Interview Questionnaire.
  • Components should submit Interim SCI requests using the “Interim SCI Eligibility” Customer Service Request (CSR) in the Defense Information Security System (DISS). The absence of the SF-86 or Personnel Screening Interview Questionnaire, or the use of any other DISS CSR, will delay the DoD CAF interim determination or cause rejection of the request. Components who requested an Advance National Agency Check in their investigation request to the investigation service provider are only required to send the Personnel Screening Interview Questionnaire with their Interim SCI request.
  • Components who are unable to submit requests using the “Interim SCI Eligibility” CSR in DISS should contact the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) Helpdesk for resolution. They may temporarily submit an encrypted request along with their DMDC Helpdesk ticket number and the required documents directly to the DoD CAF Interim SCI group mailbox at whs.meade.dodcaf.mbx.dodcaf-interim-sci-requests@mail.mil or via the DoD Secure Access File Exchange (DoD SAFE) found here. Failure to provide the necessary documentation will delay the processing of the request or cause rejection of the request.

11. Why does eligibilty reflect loss of Jurisdiction (LOJ)?

LOJ is placed on an individual’s eligibility once they have been out-processed from JPAS and no longer have an affiliation with the DoD as a military member, employee, or cleared contractor employee. In order to request adjudication, the Security Manager or Facility Security Officer (FSO) must submit a Customer Service Request (CSR) in the Defense Information Security System (DISS) for action to request adjudication once they have created a new owning relationship for that individual in their JPAS account.

12. An individual's eligibility was administratively withdrawn in JPAS, can you recertify?

If the individual is in a position that requires eligibility and access, depending on the circumstances surrounding the administrative withdrawal and the scope of the investigation, the DoD CAF will adjudicate to assess eligibility.

13. Why does eligibility reflect favorable?

The DoD CAF renders a favorable adjudication of non-U.S. citizens and others not requiring eligibility or access to classified information.

14. What do you mean by "Special Requirements"?

For access to some classified information, such as SCI or Special Access Program (sSAP), additional requirements or special conditions may be imposed by the information owner even if the person is otherwise eligible to be granted a security clearance or access authorization based on reciprocity. Two common ones are the requirement for the individual to have a polygraph or counterintelligence polygraph examination before being hired, and the requirement that the individual not have any foreign-born relatives.

15. If I've been granted an access authorization by Department of Energy or another department, will I have to have another DOD investigation?

Yes, because individual circumstances can change in ways that might impact a person's ability to responsibly handle classified material ⁠— anyone who has an access authorization must be reinvestigated. Executive Order 12968 and its implementing documents require that individuals who hold a Q access authorization, or a Top Secret clearance, must be reinvestigated at least every five years. Someone who holds an L access authorization, or a Secret clearance, will be reinvestigated at least every 10 years. However, your agency or company is not required to wait five to 10 years before conducting the reinvestigation — a reinvestigation may be initiated at any time if the individual's conduct raises a security concern. For example, if an individual is arrested or frequently violates security procedures, or they have a repeated a pattern of conduct, such as drug use or financial issues, his/her actions might impact his/her continued eligibility for access to classified information.

16. What if the DOD CAF decides that I am not qualified for eligibility? Do I have the right to appeal the decision?

Yes, Please refer to DoD Manual 5200.2 for appeal rights for military civilian and DoD Directive 5220.6 R for contract personnel.

17. Who issues personnel security clearances?

The DoD CAF renders clearance eligibility in accordance to the DoD Manual 5200.2. The component allows access in accordance to the DoD Manual 5200.02.

18. Who may apply for a security clearance?

Individuals cannot apply for a personnel security clearance application on their own. Rather, the company or organization determines whether an individual will require access to classified information. Once the company or organization makes this determination, the individual may be processed for a security clearance.

19. Can an individual call the DOD CAF call center regarding their own security clearance?

No, the individual would need to contact their Security Manager or Facility Security Officer (FSO) and they would contact the DoD CAF on the individual’s behalf.

20.How do I access CATS through DISS?

The best way to access the Joint Clearance and Access Verification System (JCAVS) and/or the Case Adjudication Tracking System (CATS) is through your component security hierarchy. The Defense Information Security System (DISS) is a Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) run system. Information about DISS capabilities and login can be found on DMDC's website here.

  • DISS Account Request Information: Please contact your component for assistance obtaining access to DISS and determining your role(s). You will need to complete the necessary training and the DD Form 2962 Personnel Security System Access Request (PSSAR). Additional information, as well as the form, are available on DMDC’s website under “Access Request.”
  • DISS One-time Registration Required: Please be aware that the first time you login to DISS, you will have to register your Personal Identity Verification (PIV) card. Your account manager will provide your initial user ID and password to register.
    • NOTE: When logging in with your PIV, you must use the certificate that you registered with.
    • Experiencing Issues with Your DISS Account: If you are experiencing issues with your DISS account, please contact the DMDC Contact Center Helpdesk at 1-800-467-5526 or email dmdc.contactcenter@mail.mil.

21. What do I do if I have technical issues with the DISS case adjudication tracking system?

If you encounter any technical issues with the Defense Information Security System (DISS) please submit tickets to the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) Contact Center Helpdesk at 1-800-467-5526 or email dmdc.contactcenter@mail.mil.

22. What is the HSPD-12 program?

Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 (HSPD-12), as specified by the DoD Instruction 5200.46, is a program addressing individuals entrusted with access to federal property and information systems must not put the U.S. government at risk or provide an avenue for terrorism. The HSPD-12 program provides guidance for issuing the Common Access Card (CAC), which serves as the DoD Personal Identity Verification (PIV) credential.

23. What is the suitability and fitness programs?

DoD Instruction 1400.25, Volume 731 delegates authority to the DoD CAF to manage the suitability program for the DoD. Suitability adjudications are required for all covered positions (including most federal jobs) and take into consideration a person’s “suitability.” Determinations are based on a person’s character and conduct that may have an impact on the integrity or efficiency of the service.

Fitness adjudications follow much of the same program guidance as suitability but are conducted for contractors working for the federal government.

24. What is the difference between HSPD-12, suitability, and fitness adjudication?

The basic difference between HSPD-12, suitability, and fitness is that HSPD-12 primarily covers the un-cleared contractor population, while suitability covers federal civilian employees (i.e. applicants, appointees, and employees) of the federal competitive service, as well as excepted service or contractor employees (for fitness). HSPD-12 guidelines allow adjudicators to determine Common Access Card (CAC) eligibility, while the suitability and fitness programs have completely different set of guidelines designed to identify character and conduct concerns that could impact the integrity or efficiency of the service.

25. On what type of investigatios are HSPD-12, suitability, and fitness cases based?

The vast majority of HSPD-12, suitability, and fitness cases are conducted on the National Agency Check with Inquiry (NACI)/ Tier-1 investigation.

26. On what type of investigatios are HSPD-12, suitability, and fitness programs?

Beginning October 1, 2013, the DoD CAF was authorized to grant favorable determinations for the HSPD-12 and suitability programs. Case types utilized for these non-sensitive investigations include Tier-1/National Agency Check with Inquiry (NACI), Tier-2/Minimum Background Investigation (MBI), and Tier-4/Background Investigation (BI) investigations. Cases containing issues that the DoD CAF is unable to mitigate, and/or cases that are lacking the minimum scoping requirements, are transferred back to the requesting component for a local adjudicative decision.

27. How does the DOD CAF determine eligibility for initital or continued access to classified national security information or eligibility to hold a sensitive position?

The DoD CAF determines eligibility in accordance with the DoD 5200.2-R, “Personnel Security ProgramDoD 5200.2-R,” and the DoD 5200.2-R, "Department of Defense Personnel Security Program,"  as applicable. In addition, the DoD CAF also applies the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines, established by the Director of National Intelligence’s Security Executive Agent Directive 4.

28. Why would my eligibility for initial or continued access to classified information or elibility to hold a sensitive position be denied or revoked?

The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) signed the Security Executive Agent Directive 4, establishing the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines — the criteria for individuals who require initial or continued eligibility for access to classified information or eligibility to hold a sensitive position. The DoD CAF adjudicative process is an examination of a sufficient period and careful weighting of several variables of an individual’s life to make an affirmative determination that the individual is an acceptable security risk. All available, reliable information about the person, past and present, favorable and unfavorable, is considered in reaching a national security eligibility determination. When a person’s life history shows evidence of unreliability or untrustworthiness, questions arise as to whether the individual can be relied upon and trusted to exercise the responsibility necessary for working in an environment where protecting national security is paramount. These questions and/or answers may lead to an adjudicative determination to deny or revoke eligibility.

29. Who administers the HSPD-12, Suitability, and Fitness programs within DOD CAF

The civilian division is responsible for adjudicating all HSPD-12, suitability, and fitness adjudications for the DoD CAF

30. I've been told I need a background investigation in order to get a security clearance for a job I'm applying for. Where can I get information on the process?

DCSA conducts background investigations for 95% of the federal government. You can find more information about the background investigation process here.

31. Where can I find final determinations for HSPD-12, suitability, and fitness investigations?

DCSA maintains the Central Verifications System (CVS), which is the official home of record for HSPD-12, suitability, and fitness. The Suitability Investigations Index (SII) will show the status of a requested investigation as well as favorable determinations for suitability and fitness investigations. SII will not show final determinations for HSPD-12.

32. Will the DOD CAF make HSPD-12, suitablity, and fitness case decisions based on any investigations closed before October 1, 2013?

No, cases completed prior to October 1, 2013, are under the jurisdiction of the component or submitting office to adjudicate. In the event a component requires an adjudication on a case closed prior to October 1, 2013, they must contact the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to obtain a File Release Adjudication copy of the record to adjudicate locally.

33. What are the childcare screenings or investigations

According to DoD Instruction 1402.05, all individuals who have regular contact with children under 18 years of age in DoD-sanctioned child care services programs will undergo a criminal history background check in order to protect the health, safety, and well-being of children in such programs. Individuals subject to criminal history background checks as part of the child care program include:

  1. All personnel employed or performing duties in DoD child and youth or other sanctioned child care services program.
  2. Individuals providing in-home Family Child Care (FCC).
  3. Personnel employed or performing duties in child and youth recreational and athletic programs (e.g., morale, welfare, and recreation).
  4. Individuals employed or performing duties in a DoD Education Activity (DoDEA) school, whether directly involved with teaching or not.
  5. Chaplains, chaplains’ assistants, religious program specialists, and other individuals employed or performing child care services duties for child under 18 years of age on a DoD installation or as part of a military-sanctioned program.
  6. Foster and respite child care providers on a DoD installation, program, or as part of a military-sanctioned activity.
  7. Health and mental health care personnel employed or performing child care services duties on a DoD installation, in a DoD sanctioned program, or as part of a military-sanctioned activity.
  8. Individualsemployed or performing child care duties in social services, residential care, rehabilitation programs, detention, and correctional services on a DoD installation program, or as part of a military-sanctioned activity.
  9. Any other individuals reasonably expected to have regular contact with children on a DoD installation, in a DoD sanctioned program, or as part of a military-sanctioned activity.


34. Are child care screenings based on the same type of investigation from which HSPD-12, suitability, and fitness investigations are conducted?

Child care screenings are not a type of investigation. Rather, they are specific extra coverage checks that are conducted in addition to a standard Tier-1/National Agency Check with Inquiry (NACI) or greater investigation.


When scheduling the investigation through DCSA, the component must specify extra coverage Code 8 or position Code H to schedule child care coverage on the investigation. Child care screenings include specific background checks to include a State Criminal History Repository (SCHR) check for all listed residences and a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal history background check. Installation records checks and checks of family advocacy program records are also conducted for individuals with prior DoD affiliations as necessary.