Why FedRAMP® Matters: Ensuring Secure Cloud Solutions for Federal Agencies

In the last decade, cloud computing has transformed how organizations manage, store, and process their data. Innovative commercial cloud technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing, and containers have accelerated adoption of cloud platforms. According to Gartner’s 2023 Public Cloud Services Forecast, over 70% of enterprises will use industry cloud platforms by 2027. That is up from 15% in 2023!

Mirroring the demand in the commercial market, federal agencies also wanted to take advantage of these new technologies, including the benefits they provide: advanced functionality, cost savings, increased efficiency, and enhanced scalability, to name a few. However, the federal government’s unique security and process requirements often stymied adoption because of the high expense and inefficiency of adapting to multiple federal agency security regimes. This daunting authorization process became a major barrier to entry for commercial Cloud Service Providers (CSP) and their advanced cloud offerings.

However, everything changed in December 2022, with the passage of the the FedRAMP Authorization Act. FedRAMP, which stands for Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, aims to promote the adoption of commercial cloud technologies while providing an efficient process for securing federal data. This explores why FedRAMP is crucial for federal agencies and how it ensures secure cloud solutions.

What is FedRAMP?

FedRAMP is a government-wide initiative that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring of cloud products and services. FedRAMP ensures that cloud services used by federal agencies meet rigorous security requirements, thereby protecting sensitive government data and operations.

Depending on the sensitivity of the federal data deployed on a CSP solution, FedRAMP categorizes CSP solutions into Low, Moderate and High Impact Levels, as determined by the FedRAMP Program Management Office (PMO). As the names imply, Low-impact solutions are authorized to store and transact in federal data with a low sensitivity level, while Moderate and High-impact solutions carry increasingly sensitive information.

FedRAMP is overseen by the Joint Authorization Board(JAB), which comprises representatives from three key federal agencies: the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the General Services Administration (GSA). The JAB is responsible for developing and maintaining FedRAMP’s security requirements, as well as authorizing cloud services that meet these standards.

Goal of FedRAMP

The primary goal of FedRAMP is to promote the adoption of commercial cloud solutions at federal agencies, by streamlining the process of assessing, authorizing and continuously monitoring commercial cloud solutions.

Impact of FedRAMP

Standardized Security Measures

Before FedRAMP, each federal agency conducted its own security assessments for cloud services, leading to inconsistencies and duplicated efforts. More importantly, the pace of authorizing commercial CSPs was slowed to a crawl due to the substantial time and expense required to comply with multi-agency security regimes.

The FedRAMP law mandated that all federal agencies use one uniform security standard: FedRAMP Security Controls. These security controls are based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-53 and include 17 control families. For example, security controls for securing how users access the cloud app, auditing and accountability, user security training, risk management, security incident response, protection of system media, system maintenance, encryption of data at rest / in transit, security assessments and authorization, etc.

This standardization helps maintain a consistent level of security across all federal agencies, reducing the risk of vulnerabilities.

Efficiency in Time and Cost

The standardized security assessment process of FedRAMP minimizes the need for repetitive evaluations of the same cloud service. Once a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) achieves FedRAMP authorization, their services can be used by any federal agency without requiring additional security assessments. This not only saves time but also reduces costs for both CSPs and federal agencies.

Enhanced Trust and Reliability

The rigorous authorization process of FedRAMP instils confidence in the security of cloud services. Federal agencies can trust that FedRAMP-authorized services have undergone comprehensive security assessments and continuous monitoring. This trust is vital in dealing with sensitive government data and operations, ensuring that cloud services are reliable and secure.

Benefits of FedRAMP Compliance

For Cloud Service Providers

  • Business Opportunities: Achieving FedRAMP authorization can open up new business opportunities with federal agencies, which represent a substantial market.
  • Competitive Advantage: FedRAMP authorization serves as a mark of quality and security, attracting private-sector clients who value high-security standards.
  • Streamlined Process: Once authorised, CSPs can offer their services to multiple federal agencies without undergoing additional security assessments.

For Federal Agencies

  • Simplified Procurement: FedRAMP provides a list of pre-authorised cloud services, reducing the time and effort required to evaluate and authorize new services.
  • Enhanced Security: Federal agencies can trust that FedRAMP-authorised services meet rigorous security standards, protecting sensitive data and operations.
  • Cost Savings: By eliminating the need for redundant security assessments, FedRAMP helps reduce costs associated with procuring cloud services.

For the Public

  • Data Protection: By ensuring that government data is securely stored in the cloud, FedRAMP helps protect citizens’ information, particularly sensitive data related to national security, healthcare, and personal information.
  • Increased Efficiency: FedRAMP’s streamlined processes contribute to more efficient government operations, ultimately benefiting the public.

FedRAMP for Commercial Users

While FedRAMP is specifically designed for federal agencies, it benefits commercial users as well. Achieving FedRAMP authorization demonstrates a CSP’s commitment to high-security standards, making their services attractive to private sector clients who require robust security measures. Many commercial organisations, especially those in highly regulated industries such as healthcare and finance, value FedRAMP authorization a sit assures that the CSP meets stringent security requirements.

The FedRAMP Authorization   Process

Achieving FedRAMP authorization involves several key steps, ensuring that only the most secure cloud services are approved for use by federal agencies.

  1. Choosing the Authorization Path

    CSPs start by selecting one of two paths for authorization: the JAB or an individual agency. The JAB provides a centralized authorization process, while an individual agency can sponsor a CSP’s authorization if it intends to use the service. The sponsoring entity will perform an initial review of the CSP’s offerings and assign a security impact level to the CSP’s offering: Low, Moderate or High, as defined earlier in this blog.

    The impact level corresponds to FedRAMP Low Impact, Moderate Impact and High Impact security control baselines. This determines how many FedRAMP security controls the CSP must comply with. Generally, each impact level requires that the CSP comply with the following number of security controls, which may vary based on when a CSP started this process:

    • LOW: 125 – 150 controls
    • MODERATE: 325 – 350 controls
    • HIGH: 421 – 450 controls
  2. Security Assessment

    CSPs must undergo a thorough security assessment conducted by a FedRAMP-accredited Third-Party Assessment Organization (3PAO). This assessment evaluates the CSP’s implementation of FedRAMP’s security controls, based on the offering’s impact level. The assessor will review the CSP’s software, systems, and security processes to check that the CSP meets the requirements of every single security control mandated by the offering’s assigned FedRAMP Impact Level Baseline.

  3. Authorization

    Upon successful completion of the security assessment, the sponsoring entity (either the JAB or a sponsoring federal agency) reviews the findings of the 3PAO assessment and works with the CSP to ensure that all controls, including regular vulnerability testing and mitigation, meet FedRAMP security controls. Once the sponsoring entity is satisfied, it will issue an Authority to Operate (ATO) to the CSP. This ATO signifies that the CSP’s cloud solution is compliant with FedRAMP’s security requirements and is approved for use by all federal agencies.

  4. Continuous Monitoring

    FedRAMP authorization is not a one-time event. CSPs must continuously monitor their systems, conduct regular security assessments and report their findings to FedRAMP. This ongoing oversight ensures that cloud services remain secure over time, adapting to new threats and vulnerabilities.

Recent FedRAMP ATO Achievement: VLogicFM®

A real-world effort to achieve FedRAMP ATO is a major effort. Even though FedRAMP has significantly reduced the time and cost of the ATO climb, it is still no small feat. Most CSPs should anticipate a multiyear process that requires significant investment in time and resources.

For example, VLogic Systems, Inc., a leading provider of cloud-based integrated workplace management(IWMS) SaaS solutions, spent over 2 years reaching its goal of FedRAMP ATO. VLogic achieved a Li-SaaS Impact Level ATO, sponsored by the Department of Veteran Affairs, by executing the following efforts:

  • Overhauled and hardened the VLogicFM cloud application and the infrastructure hosting it;
  • Deployed monitoring and vulnerability testing systems that ensured continued vigilance and security patching;
  • Implemented IT, development and company-wide policies to ensure that security policies were enforced across the enterprise; and
  • Built continuous monitoring processes and ticketing systems to ensure continued vigilance.

George T. Koshy, President of VLogic, reflects on the journey, stating, “We have been dedicated to serving the federal government for many years. Recognizing the evolving needs of our federal clients, we understood the necessity to upgrade our software and revamp our cybersecurity protocols to meet the rigorous FedRAMP standards. After a multi-year effort, we are proud to announce that VLogicFM is now fully compliant with FedRAMP requirements, marking a significant milestone in our commitment to delivering secure and reliable solutions to the VA and all federal agencies.


FedRAMP is a critical component of the federal government’s cybersecurity strategy, ensuring that cloud services used by federal agencies meet rigorous security standards. By providing a standardized approach to security assessment and continuous monitoring, FedRAMP helps protect sensitive government data and operations. This not only benefits federal agencies and CSPs but also enhances the security and privacy of the public.

As cloud technology continues to advance, FedRAMP will remain essential in navigating the future of secure cloud solutions. Whether you are a cloud service provider or a federal agency, understanding and participating in FedRAMP is crucial for ensuring the security and reliability of cloud services. Through ongoing improvements and adaptations, FedRAMP will continue to play a vital role in securing the federal government’s digital infrastructure.

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