Cloud Security

GSA tightens scrutiny on FedRAMP assessors

cloud security

Third-party assessment organizations (3PAOs) play a key role in the process by which cloud service providers (CSPs) achieve compliance under the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), the government’s standardized approach to cloud security assessments, independently verifying that companies meet those strict requirements.

Prospective 3PAOs, once FedRAMP-accredited by a government review board, will now receive accreditation under the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA), according to a July 23 announcement by the General Services Administration. GSA oversees FedRAMP.

In a press statement, GSA officials said the privatization of the 3PAO review process would add rigor and a more in-depth analysis of an applicant’s information security standards, improving the entire FedRAMP process when the 3PAO application process is reopened later this year.

“The selection of A2LA to handle the 3PAO reviews is a significant milestone as we grow FedRAMP in partnership with industry and government cloud stakeholders” said Dave McClure, Associate Administrator of GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies. “A2LA’s involvement, with continued government oversight, improves the resources and rigor of our review process, further strengthening FedRAMP.”

The FedRAMP program management office retains the final say on accreditation approval for 3PAOs, using the reviews conducted by A2LA. According to a press statement, the government also “retains the right to re-institute a government review board without any interruption in accreditation to 3PAOs.”

FedRAMP has accredited 22 3PAOs thus far, half of which are small businesses.

Many of those accredited 3PAOs have assisted the eight CSPs that have achieved FedRAMP compliance over the past year, including AT&T’s Storage as a Service provisional authorization, which came July 18.

The other CSPs to achieve compliance are the Department of Agriculture, HP, Lockheed Martin, Autonomic Resources, CGI Federal and two offerings from Amazon Web Services.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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