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

Network intrusion / Software vulnerability

Hundreds of Thousands of Job Seekers' Information May Have Been Compromised by Hackers

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

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

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


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