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. The thre national security clearance eligibility levels are: Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. 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.

The Adjudication Process: 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.

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. Although no one standard exists for fitness decisions, the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) within the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued “Contractor Fitness Adjudication — Best Practices” guidance in 2013, which can be found on the CHCO website here.  

The 2004 Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) implemented a requirement for a federal standard for secure and reliable forms of identification, establishing the use of Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards.

Clearance Eligibility Levels

  • (C) Confidential
  • (S) Secret
  • (TS) Top Secret

Types of Adjudication

  • HSPD-12 adjudication
  • Suitability adjudication under 5 CFR 731
  • Fitness determinations that are equivalent to criteria in 5 CFR 731
  • National Security adjudication under Executive Order 12968
  • Other agency authorities

Additional Information

The servicing SMO/FSO initiates the process for the applicant to submit a Questionnaire for National Security Positions Standard Form 86 (SF86) through [via] the online eQIP portal. Click here to preview the information required to complete the form. If you need further assistance, please contact your security office.

An individual who has received a final revocation or denial of their security clearance from the DoD CAF 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.


The DoD CAF 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). The DoD CAF executes its mission in accordance with appropriate laws, DoD regulations, and policy.

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

The DoD CAF adjudicates all favorable suitability, HSPD-12, and fitness determinations for the entire DoD. 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. 

To comply with required guidance, Security Managers follow these steps:

1.  Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP):

  • For non-sensitive, low-risk Tier-1 investigations, use Standard Form 85 (SF-85).
  • For non-sensitive, moderate- and high-risk Tier-2 investigations and non-sensitive, high-risk Tier-4 investigations, use the SF-85P.
  • For sensitive, non-critical Tier-3 investigations and sensitive, critical Tier-5 investigations, use the SF-86.
  • Please note that an SF-86 CANNOT be submitted for a National Agency Check with Law and Credit (NACLC), Access National Agency Check with Inquiries (ANACI), or Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI). These are not designated for suitability, fitness, nor HSPD-12

2.  Investigations: Make sure the investigations are closed. Investigations being considered for adjudication require a closed complete National Agency Check with Inquiry Tier-1/National Agency Check with Inquiry (NACI), Tier-2/Minimum Background Investigation (MBI), or Tier-4/Background Investigation (BI) in the Security/Suitability Investigations Index (SII).

3.  Security Office Identifier (SOI): Use the correct SOI. Investigation requests must be submitted to DCSA using the correct SOI. Suitability and fitness investigations must use DODS. HSPD-12 investigations must use DODH. Suitability, fitness, and HSPD-12 investigations using SOIs other than DODS and DODH are considered misrouted and are returned to their originating components.

4. Optional Form (OF) 306: Use the OF-306 for new employees. An OF-306 is required when an individual is investigated as a new federal civilian employee or an applicant for federal employment. Short-term positions that are 180 days or less, (i.e. volunteers, interns) do not require the OF-306.

5. Child Care: Confirm whether the subject's current position and duties fall under the requirements of DoD Instruction 1402.05 for child care checks. If so, a State Criminal History Repository (SCHR) must be scheduled through using Extra Coverage Code 8, or Position Code H, which should appear on the Agency Use Block (AUB).

6. Mission Date: All case determinations for HSPD-12, suitability, and fitness made after October 1, 2013, will be reflected in the DoD CAF portal and DCSA’s Central Verification System (CVS).

7. Component Adjudicator (CA) Role: It is imperative to register your component’s Unit Identification Code (UIC) in the DoD CAF portal. Also necessary is designating a CA within your UIC. The DoD CAF cannot send investigations or messages unless both are present.

8. Defense Information Security System (DISS) Portal: The best way to access the Joint Clearance and Access Verification System (JCAVS) and the Case Adjudication Tracking System (CATS) is through your component security hierarchy. 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.

9. Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) and Communication: JPAS is not the system of record for HSPD-12, suitability, or fitness. Please do not submit JPAS Customer Service Requests (CSR) — formally known as Research, Recertify, Upgrade (RRU) — regarding these cases. Send DODS and DODH case messages via the DoD CAF portal, or contact the DoD CAF Call Center at 301-833-3850 or for additional guidance.


Military and civilian personnel may appeal either directly to the Personnel Security Appeals Board (PSAB) or request a personal appearance at the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) board pursuant to their PSAB appeal. DOHA conducts personal appearances and issues written recommended decisions to the PSAB of the appealing member’s component. DOHA has the sole authority to conduct appeals and make final clearance determinations on contract personnel.


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 DoD CAF, 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.

The DoD CAF may approve or deny the reconsideration request.

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

Requesting Adjudicative Records

The DCSA FOIA and Privacy Office for Adjudications is responsible for responding to Privacy Act requests for DoD Consolidated Adjudications Facility (CAF) adjudication records. If you are/were affiliated with the DoD CAF and are seeking security clearance eligibility and/or employment determinations, or if you are seeking a copy of your DoD CAF Adjudication records, please visit the DCSA FOIA and Privacy Program website for additional details: