Compliance Management

Your Trusted Resource for Compliance Management

Explore our collection of valuable insights and practical tips to keep your organization ahead in the world of compliance. If you're looking to streamline your compliance processes, don't hesitate to get in touch with us. Let’s navigate compliance together.
Blog Hero
Blog > What Is FEDRAMP? What Are the Essential Steps for Achieving FedRAMP Compliance?

What Is FEDRAMP? What Are the Essential Steps for Achieving FedRAMP Compliance?

VComply Editorial Team
November 17, 2023
4 minutes

Achieving FedRAMP compliance is crucial for cloud service providers, ensuring they meet standardized security and risk assessment criteria, fostering transparency, and enabling collaboration with federal agencies.


FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) compliance is a set of security standards designed to ensure that cloud services meet the security requirements necessary for adoption by U.S. government agencies. Achieving FedRAMP authorization involves a rigorous process of assessment, documentation, and continuous monitoring to ensure that cloud service providers maintain a high level of security and adhere to federal information processing standards.

FedRAMP compliance assures that a cloud service provider has implemented robust measures to safeguard sensitive government data and infrastructure, demonstrating a commitment to maintaining the highest standards of security in alignment with federal information processing requirements. Adherence to FedRAMP compliance not only instills confidence in government agencies but also underscores the provider’s dedication to robust cybersecurity practices, transparency, and ongoing vigilance in the evolving landscape of federal information security.

Essential steps for achieving FedRAMP compliance

Let’s break down each of the essential steps for achieving FedRAMP compliance:

i. Gather preparatory FedRAMP documents and templates

Access resources available on the FedRAMP site to collect documents and templates necessary for preparation, authorization, and monitoring. These resources provide a foundation for understanding and meeting FedRAMP requirements.

Understand the authorization path based on your organization’s data. Different data types may follow distinct paths, and familiarity ensures alignment with the appropriate compliance requirements.

ii. Conduct FIPS 199 assessment

Perform a Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 199 assessment to categorize the impact level of the data your organization handles. This classification helps determine the appropriate security controls needed based on the impact level (low, moderate, or high).

iii. Engage a 3PAO Readiness Assessment

Partner with a third-party assessment organization (3PAO) for a cybersecurity attestation. The 3PAO will conduct a Readiness Assessment Report (RAR), evaluating your organization’s preparedness for the FedRAMP compliance process.

Address any gaps identified during the readiness assessment. This step ensures that your organization is adequately prepared for the subsequent stages of the compliance process.

iv. Create a Plan of Action and Milestones (POA&M) and Execute

Create a Plan of Action and Milestones (POA&M) to address known gaps between FedRAMP requirements and your organization’s existing controls. This plan outlines a systematic approach to implementing and documenting necessary remediation activities.

Execute the POA&M by implementing controls systematically. Document the remediation activities to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to mitigating risks and maintaining compliance.

Choose the appropriate process – Agency or JAB Process for Authorization: Decide between the Agency Process or the JAB Process based on your organization’s collaboration preferences and specific requirements. The Agency Process results in an Authorization to Operate (ATO), while the JAB Process leads to a Provisional Authorization to Operate (P-ATO).

Follow the defined steps within the chosen process, which may involve formal assessments, security plan finalization, and remediation activities. Agencies working directly with a federal agency follow the Agency Process, while those chosen by the JAB undergo additional evaluations.

v. Maintain Continuous Monitoring

After receiving formal authorization (ATO or P-ATO), your organization enters the continuous monitoring phase. This involves regularly providing evidence that key controls are operating effectively

Use automation tools for tasks like vulnerability scanning and penetration testing. Automation streamlines the continuous monitoring process, ensuring timely and accurate assessments of your organization’s security posture.

By meticulously following these steps, organizations can navigate the FedRAMP compliance process, demonstrating their commitment to secure cloud services for use by U.S. government agencies.

Organizations can pursue FedRAMP compliance through two distinct paths: the Agency Process, aiming for Authorization to Operate (ATO), or the Joint Authorization Board (JAB) Process, seeking Provisional Authorization to Operate (P-ATO). The choice depends on whether a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) collaborates with a specific federal agency from the outset or takes a government-wide approach with a Cloud Service Offering (CSO) usable by multiple agencies.

Compliance CTA

Difference Between Agency and JAB Authorization

We have discussed about Agency and Jab process for authorization. Now, lets see the difference in detail:

JAB Authorization

Involves the Joint Authorization Board (JAB), comprising the General Services Administration and CIOs from the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security.

  • Suitable for CSOs classified as moderate or high-impact per FIPS 199.
  • CSPs can apply for provisional authorization via JAB before establishing a partnership with a federal agency, showcasing FedRAMP compliance.
  • JAB’s provisional authorization is more rigorous than an ATO achieved through Agency Authorization, requiring approval from CIOs of key departments.
  • JAB selects twelve CSOs annually, each undergoing thorough evaluation.

Agency Authorization

CSP and an agency collaborate to achieve authorization.

  • Primarily for CSOs classified as low-impact per FIPS 199.
  • Agencies already working with a specific CSP can apply for authorization at any time, partnering throughout the FedRAMP authorization process.
  • Certain steps, like a 3PAO Readiness Assessment Report (RAR), are optional in the Agency Authorization route.

FedRAMP Impact Levels

FedRAMP operates across three impact levels—low, moderate, and high—signifying the varying sensitivity of data that cloud service providers (CSPs) and cloud service offerings (CSOs) can handle, process, store, and transmit.

Low Impact:  

  • Loss would result in limited adverse effects on an agency’s operations, assets, or individuals.
  • Requires fewer security controls.

Moderate Impact:  

  • Loss would result in serious adverse effects on an agency’s operations, assets, or individuals.
  • Represents nearly 80% of CSP applications with FedRAMP authorization.
  • Involves significant adverse effects, excluding loss of life or physical damage.

High Impact:  

  • Breaches would be severe or catastrophic.
  • Pertains to the government’s most sensitive, unclassified data in cloud computing environments.
  • Requires strict and comprehensive security controls.

Requirements for FedRAMP Certification

Preparation and Compliance:

Involves a meticulous process, especially for CSPs categorized as high-risk impact.

Once authorized, CSPs can be listed in the FedRAMP Marketplace for potential partnerships with federal agencies.

Cost and Collaboration:

FedRAMP compliance can be expensive and necessitates collaboration across the organization.

Partnership with a 3PAO for Full Security Assessments may incur additional costs due to remediations.

Continuous monitoring and updates to guidance are essential considerations for ongoing compliance.

The potential benefits, including a relationship with the federal government, often outweigh the costs and efforts of achieving and maintaining FedRAMP compliance.

Getting FEDRAMP Certified

Achieving FedRAMP certification involves a substantial commitment, particularly for Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) designated as high-risk impact. Once authorized, CSPs can be listed in the FedRAMP Marketplace, opening avenues for collaboration with any federal agency. However, considering the ongoing efforts for certification maintenance, risk teams must factor in the expenses associated with continuous monitoring and adapting to evolving guidance.

In terms of costs, FedRAMP compliance can be a significant investment, necessitating collaboration across the organization. A crucial requirement is partnering with a Third-Party Assessment Organization (3PAO) for comprehensive Full Security Assessments, potentially incurring additional costs for remediation. Despite the expenses and efforts involved, the potential benefits and opportunities for collaboration with the federal government often outweigh the challenges of achieving and maintaining FedRAMP compliance.

How VComply Can Help?

The platform streamlines organizational compliance processes, playing a vital role in meeting both internal and external compliance requirements. It facilitates smooth collaboration among employees across various departments and outlets. VComply’s robust reporting capabilities enable compliance teams to effectively analyze compliance and risk data from different units. This data, presented through key reports and intuitive dashboards, empowers them to generate relevant insights and make well-informed decisions.

Through the adoption of an automated approach, teams can allocate more time to the critical task of analyzing compliance and risk data, resulting in quicker and more informed decision-making. The platform’s pre-built controls, provide a convenient and efficient means to engage stakeholders and monitor compliance. This streamlined process eliminates the need to create controls for each framework separately, ultimately enhancing compliance management throughout the organization.


Effectively managing compliance demands diligence, continuous training, and a steadfast commitment to safety and quality. By remaining informed and proactive, you can guarantee that your business adheres to all pertinent regulations, including FEDRAMP, ensuring a secure and pleasant experience for your customers.

For those seeking to enhance their compliance and risk programs, consider scheduling a demo with VComply.