recommended reading

Federal Cloud Security Is Now Partially Privatized


The government has partially privatized the certification of agency cloud services by tapping the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation to vet inspectors of commercial data centers, federal officials announced on Tuesday.

Since the 2011 inception of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program -- the process for authorizing cloud providers -- the government has planned to hand off auditor accreditation to an independent body. This is because the government is cash-strapped and short on time. FedRAMP is intended to expedite the governmentwide shift to cloud computing.

All contractors that want to sell Web services to the government must undergo evaluation by an accredited inspector by June 2014. Typically security consulting firms, such as KPMG, have applied for these auditor spots.

On Tuesday, federal officials said in a statement that privatization "will allow for more in-depth analysis of an applicant’s conformance to inspection and information security standards, making the process more rigorous." Auditing firms are responsible for examining cloud companies' physical and virtual security. 

Any agency can read an auditor's assessment to decide whether a cloud service is safe enough for adoption.  

The nonprofit American Association for Laboratory Accreditation is known for accrediting laboratories, inspection bodies, proficiency testing providers, and product certifiers.

To date, 22 inspection bodies, half of which are small businesses, are sanctioned to examine cloud providers, according to the General Services Administration, which had been responsible for coordinating auditor accreditation. 

Using the association’s reviews, GSA will decide whether to give auditor candidates a final nod, agency officials said. If the private arrangement does not work out, the government can reinstate the federal review board, officials added.

GSA stopped accepting applications from prospective inspectors March 25, while searching for a private accreditor. The government continued to accredit auditors who had applied before the cutoff date and agency officials on Tuesday said FedRAMP will resume accepting applications in the fall.

The selection of a private accreditor "is a significant milestone as we grow FedRAMP in partnership with industry and government cloud stakeholders," Dave McClure, GSA associate administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, said in a statement. The association’s “involvement, with continued government oversight, improves the resources and rigor of our review process, further strengthening FedRAMP.”  

The roughly 100 cloud companies and agency-run server hubs attempting to earn a FedRAMP seal of approval have met road bumps. Only six providers have been approved since the process began June 2012. 

The roster includes Autonomic Resources, CGI Federal, HP, Lockheed Martin, Amazon Web Services, the Agriculture Department, which offers agencies space in a shared data center, and  -- as of yesterday -- AT&T. 

(Image via brainpencil/

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.