DOHA Starts Hearing CAC Denial Appeals

The adjudicative criteria for review of background investigations conducted for the issuance of the Dod Common Access Card (CAC) is governed by DoD Instruction 5200.46 published in September 2014. A little known fact, at least up to now, was that the Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA), the same body that hears clearance denial cases, also decides on cases involving the denial of a CAC. I know what you are thinking……what does a background investigation have to do with the denial of an identification badge?

Under Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-12) requirements, all personnel must undergo or have on file the minimum or higher level (Tier 1) of background investigation prior to the issuance of a CAC card. When derogatory information is present, it is adjudicated in accordance with guidelines developed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and adopted by the DoD. The basic premise states that no one who poses an unacceptable risk to the U.S. government or would provide an avenue to terrorism shall be issued a CAC. A supplemental set of guidelines adds unacceptable risk to life, safety, or health of employees, contractors, vendors, or visitors; to the Government’s physical assets or information systems; to personal property; to records, including classified, privileged, proprietary, financial, or medical records; or to the privacy of data subjects.

The process is similar to security clearance denials; a statement of reasons is issued; response is reviewed; if a adverse decision is made, then DOHA hears the appeal. Interesting to note, the first couple of cases heard by DOHA resulted in the adverse decision overturned. Why? Because the adjudicative guidelines for CAC issuance do not consider financial delinquencies or debt as an issue unless it involves questionable judgment, lack of candor, dishonesty, or unwillingness to comply with rules and regulations. It appears that the adjudicators in these cases did not apply the correct guidelines.


  1. CAC card denials and appeals… who knew?

    Just to add my own two cents: I am cleared/briefed as a contractor with Agency A. Periodic update was submitted on time so I am still “active” but no longer “current” as it is taking for-freakin-ever to get adjudicated.

    I was assigned to another contract part-time to support Agency B which required a CAC to access certain locations where they have things that need tending to. Agency B would not submit my CAC application because my clearance is not current.

    Supposedly it has been worked out but I do not have a card yet.

    Are they overreacting? Should there have even been an issue?

  2. Funny you should mention this as that is the topic for my next post. Stay tuned…