Frequently asked questions about CACs and the CAC process at CSU CEMML

The PDF version is here: FAQs for CACs is where to email questions and completed CAC forms.

Q: How would a new employee know how to fill out a CAC Request form and what to do with it?

A:  On pages 2-4 of the CAC Request form you will find guidance about how to complete it, including descriptions and a flowchart of the application process.  This structure, a form followed by instructions, is similar to many government forms.

If you don’t know who your on-campus supervisor / PI is, the hyperlink is a current listing.

Here is the address for the request form:

Q: Can employees acquire provisional CACs?

A:  Yes.  In most cases, after a favorable initial background check, the Corps of Engineers may authorize issuance of a CAC.  The full background investigation takes longer and may be completed later, at the discretion of the issuing authority.  However, if an employee misrepresents any aspect of the CAC application, the employee may lose their CAC and the right to access any military installation for up to 10 years. 

Q: Is it possible to apply for a CAC for the full duration of a project, including option years?

A:  Yes, the Department of Defense may issue a CAC to a CSU employee for up to three years.  So, we recommend applying for CACs for the total period of performance (POP) on all projects, including option years.

Q: How do I know whether to approach a military installation’s security office directly or to work through the Corps of Engineers to get a Common Access Card (CAC)?

A:  Unless you have experience with a particular Corps of Engineers district or installation, please ask CEMML_CAC.  In close coordination, CEMML and Secure and Global Research collect information about acquiring CACs through the three primary districts of the Corps of Engineers for whom CSU performs work.  It is not feasible to collect detailed information from each of the many installation security offices where our employees may be assigned, partly because of the relatively small numbers at each base.

CEMML_CAC email address:

Secure and Global Research email address:

Q: To avoid the loss of valuable time, could we provide better introductory information about CACs and the timing of providing it to new employees?

A:  After reviewing the previous information provided to employees, we discovered that it could be confusing or ambiguous, and with the input of CEMML Senior Staff members, it has been improved, link (see pp. 2-4).  In terms of the timing, our USACE partners asked that we not direct any inquiries to them unless potential employees are actually hired, so these guidelines can and should be provided to a candidate as soon as she or he accepts a CSU employment agreement.

CAC information (pp. 2-4):

Q: Is there a flowchart of the CAC application process?

A:  Yes.  See the guidance on p. 2 of the CAC Request form or at this link. Diagram below:

Link to the CAC request form (see p. 2 for guidance):

Q: Is it possible to avoid the lengthy process of acquiring a CAC and to allow employees to begin work immediately?

A:  For the Alaska district alone, apparently, it is possible to secure a base pass in a matter of days, and this may be sufficient for field employees who do not require access to government computer systems, to restricted areas of an installation, or to multiple installations.

Q: Can we accelerate fingerprinting?

A:  Due to the limitations on when a Corps of Engineers district or military installation is able to collect fingerprints for a new employee – only after there is a record against which to upload the fingerprints – this remains a challenge.  We can reduce the time lost by alerting employees to this important step and encouraging them to take action as soon as that is allowed.

Q: Should we kick start the Army Knowledge Online (AKO) account process, and begin as soon as possible?

A:  An employee must have a CAC before he or she can apply for an AKO account.  Consider whether an AKO is really required.  Even for employees on Army installations, if the requirement is for access to training materials, an AKO account may not be necessary, because Security Officers can deliver training in other ways (courtesy of US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Alaska District).

Q: What about CACs or other access credentials for projects with the Forest Service or sponsors outside the Department of Defense (DOD)?

A:  The CAC was adopted across the DOD, and separate access credentials may be required by CSU and CEMML employees performing work for agencies outside DOD.  Please contact CEMML_CAC for support on these less frequent instances, on a case by case basis.

CEMML_CAC email address:

Q: What is the difference between a Security Officer or Security Specialist and a Trusted Agent at a district of the Corps of Engineers?

A:  A Security Officer or Specialist is the person CSU needs to work with in preparing CAC applications and fingerprints.  A Trusted Agent is the person who can review an application once all required information has been provided, and grant the CSU employee access to the Trusted Associate Sponsorship System (TASS).  The employee must activate their TASS account, provide fingerprints, and request an appointment at the installation security office.

Q: Once my CAC is received, what should I do to activate it or if it stops working when trying to access a military site?

A:  Although we recognize how frustrating this can be and wish CSU could fix it directly, we don’t have the authority to issue or repair CACs.  Please contact the security office at your installation, or the office that issued your card to address the problem.

Q: What if an employee needs a security clearance to perform their duties, in addition to a CAC?

A:  The CSU Secure and Global Research group can help.  Contact us at: