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Scale and Reciprocity in the FedRAMP Program - A Deep Dive Into The FedRAMP Roadmap Episode 3

Note: This is episode 3 of a five-part series on the Future of FedRAMP. See the links below for other episodes.

Welcome back to our ongoing series dissecting the newly released FedRAMP strategic roadmap. In today's episode, we delve into the second goal outlined in the roadmap, which is to position the FedRAMP program as a leader in cybersecurity and risk management.

FedRAMP's Track Record in Cybersecurity

There’s little doubt about it: the FedRAMP program has significantly bolstered the nation's cybersecurity posture, especially as it pertains to cloud adoption within federal government agencies. However, this specific goal seems to focus on amplifying FedRAMP’s existing strengths while allowing the program to scale.

Expansion of Technical Expertise

One of the key takeaways from this strategic goal is the call for more technical expertise within the FedRAMP PMO (Project Management Office) and extended agencies. The capacity and capability to expedite reviews and processes would be significantly enhanced by increasing the flow of technical skills into the program.

Recruiting and Retaining Talent

Recruiting and retaining skilled personnel is a familiar challenge for many organizations, and FedRAMP is no exception. The agency aims to utilize automation and machine learning (ML) to streamline processes and perform basic automated reviews. This, in turn, can free up human resources for more complex tasks, thereby improving overall efficiency and productivity.

Collaboration Between Agencies

Another major talking point is expanding the involvement of agencies. By bringing multiple agencies together to act as authorizing bodies, with the intent to simplify and accelerate the authorization process. The new FedRAMP Board, replacing the previously paused JAB (Joint Authorization Board), aims to level the playing field between JAB-authorized and agency-authorized services. This change could eliminate long-standing distinctions, ensuring a more uniform standard across the board.

Defining Core Security Requirements

Perhaps one of the most critical aspects of achieving this goal is to clearly define core security expectations. Having clear, consistent core security requirements will help cloud service providers navigate the FedRAMP process more efficiently. Consistency is key to encouraging more providers to seek FedRAMP authorization, thus broadening the pool of secure options available to government agencies.

Addressing Presumption of Adequacy

For cloud providers, going through the authorization process with one agency only to face additional requirements from another is highly frustrating. To address this, there’s an emphasis on achieving a presumption of adequacy across the board. If a service is FedRAMP authorized at a certain level, it should be accepted as sufficient without extra layers of compliance requirements. Achieving this level of reciprocity will require cooperation between the PMO, GSA, OMB, and the executive branch as a whole.

Streamlining DoD and Civil Processes

The complexity of meeting compliance standards for different sectors, especially between Civil agencies and the Department of Defense (DoD), has been a major pain point. There’s a strong push to streamline these processes to achieve equivalency where possible. For instance, aligning DoD's IL-4 requirements with FedRAMP’s high-level equivalencies can simplify the compliance landscape and reduce redundant audits and bureaucratic overhead.

Leveraging Commercial Standards

Exploring equivalence with international standards like ISO 27001 or SOC 2 for low-impact solutions is another key area of interest. Although the level of documentation and evidence required by the government remains stringent, the goal is to harmonize expectations and potentially ease the burden on cloud providers.

The Bigger Picture

The overarching aim is to simplify, streamline, and flatten the requirements to make FedRAMP authorization attainable and consistent. This will not only improve the cybersecurity landscape within government agencies but also drive more cloud service providers to seek and obtain FedRAMP authorization.


Thank you for joining us in this episode as we unpack FedRAMP’s goal to position itself as a leader in cybersecurity and risk management. We look forward to having you in our next episode as we continue to explore and discuss the strategic roadmap.

Stay tuned and see you next time!