What is FedRAMP and Why Does My Organization Need It?

Compliance and assessment audits and services

It’s a common practice to shorten long and complicated organizational names to more digestible acronyms. However, navigating these acronyms and the programs behind them can sometimes feel like sifting through alphabet soup. That’s why I’m here to help decode one of the most well-known federal programs: the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program—otherwise known as FedRAMP.  

What is FedRAMP? 

Created in 2011, FedRAMP was designed to provide a cost-efficient and risk-based approach to cloud adoption for federal departments and agencies. The creation of the FedRAMP security assessment framework was based on the Risk Management Framework (RMF) that implements the FISMA (Federal Information Security Modernization Act) requirements, and NIST SP 800-53. FedRAMP allows for cloud service providers (CSPs) to be assessed and authorized by federal agencies.  

FedRAMP provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring specifically for cloud products and services relied upon by federal entities that store, process and transmit federal information. This strengthened the federal government’s ‘cloud first’ initiative by enabling federal agencies to contract with approved cloud providers who were best equipped to protect vital government information.  

What are the goals of FedRAMP? 

According to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the goal of FedRAMP is to ultimately accelerate the adoption of secure cloud solutions through the reuse of assessments and authorizations. Achieving FedRAMP authorization will also increase confidence in the security of cloud solutions and security assessments for your organization. Additional goals include:  

  • Achieving consistent security authorizations using a baseline set of agreed-upon standards to be used for cloud product approval
  • Ensuring consistent application of existing security practices 
  • Increasing automation and access to real-time data for continuous monitoring 

How do you know if your organization requires a FedRAMP assessment? 

Simple—any organization that is currently serving, or seeking to serve, cloud products or solutions to a federal agency must undergo a full FedRAMP assessment.  

A recommended first step is to achieve a ‘readiness designation’ from FedRAMP, referred to as FedRAMP Ready.  Optional for agency authorizations and mandatory for Joint Authorization Board (JAB) authorizations, this designation indicates that a Third-Party Assessment Organization (3PAO) attests to a Cloud Service Provider’s readiness for the full FedRAMP authorization process and that a Readiness Assessment Report (RAR) has been reviewed and approved by the FedRAMP PMO. The RAR indicates the CSP’s ability to meet FedRAMP security requirements. 

What are the benefits of achieving FedRAMP Authorization? 

Being FedRAMP Authorized offers a CSP numerous benefits, such as improved real-time security visibility and providing a uniform approach to risk-based management. Your organization will save significant cost, time and resources by de-duplicating efforts related to meeting federal cybersecurity requirements.  Additional benefits include:  

  • Increased re-use of existing security assessments across agencies 
  • Enhanced transparency between government and CSPs 
  • Improved trustworthiness, reliability, consistency and quality of the Federal security authorization process 

The A-LIGN Difference 

As one of the more experienced 3PAOs for FedRAMP, A-LIGN can help CSPs achieve a FedRAMP Ready and/or a FedRAMP Authorized status. If you have any questions or if you would like to learn more about undergoing a FedRAMP assessment, please reach out to one of A-LIGN’s experienced assessors.