FedRAMP deadline a soft one

Neither the GSA nor OMB is taking a hard stance on compliance with cloud-security guidelines, at least for the time being.

FedRAMP logo -- GSA image

The agencies that oversee the Federal Risk Authorization Management Program are taking a longer view on compliance now that the deadline has passed for federal agencies to use suppliers vetted through the program's baseline security standards.

June 5 was the official deadline at the General Services Administration, which runs FedRAMP, for agencies to comply with the program. The White House Office of Management and Budget works to ensure FedRAMP is widely adopted across government. But neither agency is taking a hard line on compliance with the directive post-deadline.

A statement from OMB provided to FCW on June 9 could well have been issued before the deadline. It contained no specific information about possible consequences for agencies that missed compliance with the deadline.

Instead, OMB said it will be watching the quarterly progress reports for FedRAMP issues in the coming months. "The Office of Management and Budget will conduct oversight through PortfolioStat and other processes to support the annual FISMA Report to gauge agency efforts to meet the June 2014 deadline," said the statement. "As necessary, OMB will work with agencies if the deadline isn't met."

PortfolioStat is a new process the government uses to assess the current maturity of agencies' IT portfolio management process, make decisions on eliminating duplication, augment current CIO-led capital planning and spending control processes, and move to shared solutions to maximize the return on IT investments across the portfolio. Reports under the process are quarterly.

In an interview with FCW on June 4 -- a day before the deadline at GSA -- the FedRAMP Director Maria Roat and Program Manager Matt Goodrich said much the same as OMB. The latest quarterly PortfolioStat report closed the week of May 25, Roat said, and is now being analyzed.

Knowing which agencies comply with the standards probably could take until September, as the ongoing PortfolioStat review and assessment process moves forward.

The next milepost for PortfolioStat is June 19, when OMB should complete its assessment of agency programs. Based on that discussion, according to OMB's May 7 PortfolioStat memo, OMB and agencies will identify and agree on next steps and specific timeframes for what comes next. OMB said it will formalize and send memos out to agencies within three weeks of the completed session, and no later than Aug. 31.

The number of vendors approved to provide cloud infrastructure is increasing, said Goodrich, an encouraging sign. He added that vendors are also becoming more interested in pursuing Joint Authorization Board (JAB)-level approvals for their individual services and products.

"There's a new appetite for authorization" among cloud providers, Goodrich said. GSA wants to assist cloud service providers in the process. The agency "is here to answer questions" that potential cloud vendors have about the vetting process.

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