Quick Study

By Brian Robinson

Blog archive

NIST guidelines: Broccoli and cheese

For government agencies, complying with new security guidelines from the National Institute of Science and Technology can be the equivalent of eating broccoli: It’s good for you, but that doesn’t mean you enjoy it. With recent announcements, however, there’s a heaping of tasty melted cheese included in the form of potentially saving big bucks.

In a GovInfoSecurity.com interview, NIST’s Federal Information Security Management Act project leader, Ron Ross, shows how agencies can team with other agencies -- or candidly piggyback on their work -- to hack away at the time and effort needed to qualify IT products and services for purchase.

That’s a part of NIST Special Publication 800-37, a guide for agencies to apply risk management techniques to harmonizing IT certification and accreditation across the government. That was just one of a number of announcements NIST made about security issues in late February.

Ross said there are now three distinct types of IT authorizing approaches agencies can use, starting with the traditional single authorization where an agency official does all the work to authorize each system. Now there is also a joint authorization, where multiple authorizing officials can work together to authorize something like a service that many agencies will be using.

And then there is something called a leveraged authorization, where agencies can use the documentation and evidence that other agencies have created as the basis for their own risk decision.

Ross said there has been a change in the culture over the past few years that has required these kinds of changes, together with technological innovations such as cloud computing, that require a more collaborative environment. Civilian, military and intelligence agencies are much more inclined to cooperate and share on these kinds of things.

That all makes sense, but I guess we’ll have to see how this rolls out in practice. Kumbaya has not proven to be a very practical philosophy in the past.

And, by the way, in case people feel like complaining, the lead was inspired by George H.W. Bush. I. actually. like broccoli.

Posted by Brian Robinson on Mar 15, 2010 at 12:19 PM

FCW in Print

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


  • Shutterstock image: looking for code.

    How DOD embraced bug bounties -- and how your agency can, too

    Hack the Pentagon proved to Defense Department officials that outside hackers can be assets, not adversaries.

  • Shutterstock image: cyber defense.

    Why PPD-41 is evolutionary, not revolutionary

    Government cybersecurity officials say the presidential policy directive codifies cyber incident response protocols but doesn't radically change what's been in practice in recent years.

  • 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.

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