GAO says Agencies Increased Their Use of the Federal Authorization Program, but Improved Oversight and Implementation Are Needed for agencies including HHS

Why GAO Did This Study

“Federal agencies use internet-based (cloud) services to fulfill their missions. GSA manages FedRAMP, which provides a standardized approach to ensure that cloud services meet federal security requirements. OMB requires agencies to use FedRAMP to authorize the use of cloud services.”

“GAO was asked to review FedRAMP. The objectives were to determine the extent to which 1) federal agencies used FedRAMP to authorize cloud services, 2) selected agencies addressed key elements of the program’s authorization process, and 3) program participants identified FedRAMP benefits and challenges…”

What GAO Found

“The 24 federal agencies GAO surveyed reported using the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) for authorizing cloud services. From June 2017 to July 2019, the number of authorizations granted through FedRAMP by the 24 agencies increased from 390 to 926, a 137 percent increase. However, 15 agencies reported that they did not always use the program for authorizing cloud services. For example, one agency reported that it used 90 cloud services that were not authorized through FedRAMP and the other 14 agencies reported using a total of 157 cloud services that were not authorized through the program. In addition, 31 of 47 cloud service providers reported that during fiscal year 2017, agencies used providers’ cloud services that had not been authorized through FedRAMP. Although the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) required agencies to use the program, it did not effectively monitor agencies’ compliance with this requirement. Consequently, OMB may have less assurance that cloud services used by agencies meet federal security requirements…”

What GAO Recommends

“GAO is making one recommendation to OMB to enhance oversight, two to GSA to improve guidance and monitoring, and 22 to the selected agencies, including GSA. GSA and HHS agreed with the recommendations, USAID generally agreed, EPA generally disagreed, and OMB neither agreed nor disagreed. GAO revised four recommendations and withdrew one based on new information provided; it maintains that the remaining recommendations are warranted.”

Access the full 87-page report here.

Source: U.S. GAO – Cloud Computing Security: Agencies Increased Their Use of the Federal Authorization Program, but Improved Oversight and Implementation Are Needed – December 12, 2019. GAO.

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