Clearance VS CAC

What comes first, a security clearance or CAC eligibility? If your secret clearance is granted would that be grounds for eligibility for a CAC and would a denial for a CAC mean a denial for a secret clearance? Traditionally I have always thought the clearance is done first since it can show adjudications and prior granted clearances. I respect your inputs but is there any clarity to this and credible evidence found online?

By CAC, I assume you mean Common Access Card.

For what it’s worth, I started at my current position on an Interim Secret clearance in September of 2014 and got my CAC during my first week of employment. My clearance wasn’t adjudicated until over a year later due to some logistical hiccups (I think there was a contractor transition due to the Aaron Alexis debacle and the OPM breach).

So based on my experience, I’d say CAC eligibility comes before “final” clearance, but that may also depend on the employer. I’m sure the experts here can give you a better answer.

Thanks for your input Chzburger, yes your assumption is correct, Common Access Card. Sorry that I did not specify about the clearance, an interim security clearance and/or final clearance can be granted without CAC eligibility. Can an employer misconstrue CAC eligibility with interim/final secret clearance without providing a SOR Statement of Reasons?

CAC eligibility is not a security clearance. You can have a PIV/CAC and not have a security clearance., You do have to complete a minimal records search and some other hoops to get the CAC/PIV though.

As far as I know, there is no such thing as CAC eligibility in the sense that there is a formal approval and reporting process that tells you that you’ve been approved to have a CAC.

As soon as I started at my current position with the interim, I just had to fill out a local form for HR/Employee On-Boarding to get my CAC made and programmed. I was never told in official correspondence that “you are now approved to have a CAC”.

Where I work, there are many unclassified networks and accounts that require a CAC certificate to gain access and I believe there are some employees (albeit very few) that don’t have a clearance. I could be wrong on this, however.

So with that being said, I don’t think there is any correlation between clearance status and CAC eligibility and so I doubt your employer would misconstrue those. Maybe different employers have do things differently though.

Again, take all of this with a grain of salt. I am just making educated guesses based on my experience and a security professional could probably give you a better answer.

I hope this helps.

Thanks backgdinvestigator, I appreciate your input as well. I find it a task to search online to compare the two. Is it fair if an employer rescinds a job offer if a candidate is eligible for an interim/final security clearance but the CAC eligibility requires adjudication? Even if the position clearly states the requirement of a clearance and the denial comes with no SOR of LOD to appeal?

Thanks Chzburger, yes every experience such as yours shed light on the matter. I thank you for taking the time to address.

Take a look at the credentialing pieces of

Another one that might be interested in (I haven’t read that one…):

Thanks rocket for the links. Your assistance is much appreciated!

You need to have a sponsor for a CAC or PIV. Typically this is associated with a contrcact. If your name is on a federal contract as a POC or supporting the contract in any way, someone can sponsor you for the CAC/PIV. That CAC/PIV will be good through the PoP (period of performance) of that contract.

Thanks LukeSCIFWalker, may the force be with you Sir! I appreciate your inputs…I was able to find some information on Dealing with CAC, I was attempting to find the concise contrast between CAC eligibility and a secret clearance. I am aware that everyone that holds a CAC does not necessarily hold a secret clearance.

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