Blog archive

More than one path for FedRAMP

FedRAMP logo -- GSA image

In an Aug. 30 FCW article about a ninth vendor receiving approval through the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), reader Peter Stark questioned whether companies were skirting the FedRAMP process by earning agency authorities to operate (ATOs) rather than certification through the FedRAMP’ Joint Authorization Board (JAB): The article states that Akamai is the 9th vendor to receive FedRAMP approval, then lists only five others. The other three are characterized as receiving "agency authority to operate," implying it's not the same as FedRAMP ATO (presumably being issued by an individual agency for its own enterprise). Then it concludes by stating that one of those three is the only federal agency to achieve FedRAMP approval. It doesn't seem like all those statements can be true. Does an agency ATO somehow equate to FedRAMP approval?

Frank Konkel responds: This question has come up before, most notably when Amazon Web Services went through an agency ATO process to gain FedRAMP certification. Some questioned whether gaining the ATO was on par with attaining JAB certification.

As FCW Editor-in-Chief Troy K. Schneider explained in May, an agency-provided authority to operate is no less “real” than certification to operate from the FedRAMP JAB. Either avenue is perfectly acceptable. As Scott Renda, Federal Data Center Consolidation portfolio manager Scott Renda has repeatedly stated, to think otherwise is mistaken.

"We never intended the JAB to authorize every system in government," Renda said at the FOSE conference in May. "That's a myth. And it would slow things down." What the FedRAMP team wants, he stressed, "is to implement a government-wide standard."

Posted by Frank Konkel on Sep 05, 2013 at 8:09 AM

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group