Transforming FedRAMP: Enhancing Efficiency and Security

The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) is undergoing significant transformations to streamline processes, enhance security, and improve the overall experience for Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and federal agencies.

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Transforming FedRAMP: Enhancing Efficiency and Security

The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) is undergoing significant transformations to streamline processes, enhance security, and improve the overall experience for Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and federal agencies. In a recent public forum, FedRAMP unveiled a comprehensive roadmap outlining its vision for the future. In this blog, we will delve into some of the key highlights and initiatives discussed.

Customer-Centric Approach: The FedRAMP Program Management Office (PMO) is pivoting towards a customer-centric model, aiming to simplify the authorization process for CSPs while ensuring that security expectations remain clear and consistent across all authorization types. This transformation involves aligning CSP and federal agency time and cost estimates with real-world industry experiences. Continuing the customer-centric focus, the FedRAMP PMO is transitioning to a new platform that will provide governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) capabilities and will allow for the creation of knowledge base articles with real-world examples to help technical, compliance, and security staff, along with FedRAMP updates, guidance, and refinement of policies.

Streamline Operations

Additionally, the PMO is creating a trusted marketplace to reduce redundant authorization package reviews, centralize post-authorization monitoring, and automate processes wherever possible. This move not only streamlines operations but also enhances security oversight. Embracing a data-first and API-first approach, FedRAMP is transitioning from paper-based packages to digital formats capable of automated analysis and assessment.

Transition and Expansion

While the Joint Authorization Board (JAB) is on hold, FedRAMP is investigating other authorization routes and enhancing continuous monitoring capabilities to manage risks more efficiently. The new FedRAMP Board will take the place of the JAB and will provide executive oversight and governance of the FedRAMP program. The FedRAMP Board is made up of seven members, including representatives from the General Services Administration (GSA), the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of the Air Force, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). GSA also included another update in the FedRAMP overhaul, making changes to the membership and chairperson the Federal Secure Cloud Advisory Committee (FSCAC), which advises FedRAMP on the adoption, utilization, authorization, monitoring, acquisition, and security of cloud computing and services.

To facilitate sponsorship for more CSPs, the PMO is encouraging federal agencies to act as initial authorizing sponsors and simplifying the authorization package review process. Additionally, they are exploring alternative paths to authorization for CSPs, with the FedRAMP PMO potentially serving as an initial sponsoring agency. They anticipate that automating the continuous monitoring process will reduce authorization costs for agencies and create additional capacity. The PMO will also launch an educational campaign for agencies to familiarize themselves with the ATO process and its associated requirements.

Pilot Program

The FedRAMP PMO plans to run pilot programs for new procedures, such as replacing the current significant change request process with one that doesn’t need pre-approval, enabling faster delivery, and examining digital authorization packages which will address common defects in System Security Plan (SSP) packages and advance the program’s data-centric future. Plans include developing reciprocity plans with other compliance frameworks and enhancing OSCAL tools to provide more structured and automated reviews. The PMO will share updates through blogs or announcements about the pilot initiative and the chance for CSPs to participate voluntarily. These programs will have clear goals and metrics that CSPs must adhere to during the pilot phase.

As part of the pilot program, FedRAMP is collaborating with CISA to guarantee the availability of secure baseline configurations for CSPs and agencies through the Secure Cloud Business Application (SCUBA) project. CISA will closely collaborate with partners to identify new opportunities and requirements, ensuring quality cybersecurity advice for federal agencies and CSPs alike.

Technology Initiatives: Efforts are underway to eliminate obstacles by addressing and providing guidance on issues related to FIPS-validated cryptography, which frequently presents challenges for CSPs. Additionally, the PMO intends to provide more detailed guidance on data, metadata, and sensitive metadata with updates to the current draft authorization boundary guidance. The PMO will also concentrate on enhancing the functionalities of the free Open Security Controls Assessment Language (OSCAL) tools that are presently available. CSPs are advised to commence planning the transition of their authorization packages to the OSCAL format, but currently there is no set requirement or deadline for the submission of packages in OSCAL format.

These strategic initiatives reflect FedRAMP’s dedication to modernizing processes, strengthening security postures, and fostering collaboration across the federal ecosystem. By embracing emerging technologies, fostering partnerships, and prioritizing user experience, FedRAMP is poised to lead the way in cloud security and authorization management. Stay tuned for further updates and advancements as FedRAMP continues its transformative journey.

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