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More than one path for FedRAMP

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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


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