CDM-FedRAMP union not on the calendar... yet

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The General Services Administration is looking forward to providing continuous diagnostics and mitigation services through the federal cloud authorization program, but that effort faces some challenges before it becomes a reality, according to a top CDM manager at GSA.

"At some point, the two will marry," said Jim Piche, manager of the agency's Federal Systems Integration and Management Center DHS Group.

Although GSA is a strong proponent of cloud-based services, implementing CDM through the Federal Risk Authorization and Management Program needs a little more time, Piche told an Oct. 21 ImmixGroup panel on detecting insider cyber intrusions.

While GSA is working to bring FedRAMP cloud capabilities to bear on CDM services, CDM's structure -- which includes a phased model that considers groups of large, medium and smaller agencies, blanket purchase agreements and more than a dozen providers -- complicates coupling it to FedRAMP. Additionally, Piche said, FedRAMP is building to a medium-level security baseline, while CDM, given its specific security responsibilities, requires a higher level baseline.

GSA is working to move past those challenges, he said, but no timeline has been set.

ExecTech: Can CDM change the game?

The Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program represents a dramatic shift from the government's traditional focus on certifying systems as secure and then rechecking them every so often.

Meanwhile, GSA and other agencies have been learning the ropes as agencies implement Phase 1 of CDM's three-phase roll out.

The first phase, which looks at endpoint device security, has given federal IT managers who have implemented it a sprawling view of the devices and vulnerabilities on their networks, many of which had gone unnoticed under previous monitoring regimes.

When CDM was implemented at the Securities and Exchange Commission, "we were shocked" at the number of vulnerabilities it revealed, said SEC CIO Tom Bayer. His agency has been busy implementing its own version of CDM, but signed a memorandum of agreement with GSA at the beginning of September to use GSA's CDM contracting vehicles.

"We've seen benefits," said Tom DeBiase, chief information security officer at DHS's Immigration and Customs Enforcement. When his agency began implementing phase one and taking inventory of endpoint devices to secure, "we had a lot more technology than we realized."

Although GSA and DHS awarded the first CDM task orders in January, Piche said a second series of contracts, under Task Order II, are in varying stages of completion -- from evaluating submitted vendor proposals for larger agencies to releasing and drawing up vendor solicitations for smaller agencies. Task Order II focuses on products and services surrounding planning, management, training, architecture and engineering.

Federal CDM dashboard solutions are currently under evaluation by DHS, according to Piche. "There has been no competition, no selection and no award" for the dashboard contract, he said.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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