Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP)

FedRAMP overview

The US Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) was established to provide a standardized approach for assessing, monitoring, and authorizing cloud computing products and services under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), and to accelerate the adoption of secure cloud solutions by federal agencies.

The Office of Management and Budget now requires all executive federal agencies to use FedRAMP to validate the security of cloud services. (Other agencies have also adopted it, so it is useful in other areas of the public sector as well.) The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) SP 800-53 sets the mandatory standards, establish security categories of information systems—confidentiality, integrity, and availability—to assess the potential impact on an organization should its information and information systems be compromised. FedRAMP is the program that certifies that a cloud service provider (CSP) meets those standards.

CSPs desiring to sell services to a federal agency can take three paths to demonstrate FedRAMP compliance:

  • Earn a Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO) from the Joint Authorization Board (JAB). The JAB is the primary governance and decision-making body for FedRAMP. Representatives from the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the General Services Administration serve on the board. The board grants a P-ATO to CSPs that have demonstrated FedRAMP compliance.
  • Receive an Authority to Operate (ATO) from a federal agency.
  • Or, work independently to develop a CSP Supplied Package that meets program requirements.

Each of these paths requires a stringent technical review by the FedRAMP Program Management Office (PMO) and an assessment by an independent third-party organization that is accredited by the program.

FedRAMP authorizations are granted at three impact levels based on NIST guidelines—low, medium, and high. These levels rank the impact that the loss of confidentiality, integrity, or availability could have on an organization—low (limited effect), medium (serious adverse effect), and high (severe or catastrophic effect).

Microsoft and FedRAMP

Microsoft's government cloud services, including Azure Government, Dynamics 365 Government, and Office 365 U.S. Government meet the demanding requirements of the US Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), enabling U.S. federal agencies to benefit from the cost savings and rigorous security of the Microsoft Cloud.

Microsoft government cloud services offer public sector customers a rich array of services compliant with FedRAMP, and robust guidance and implementation tools, including the FedRAMP High blueprint, which helps customers deploy a core set of policies for any Azure-deployed architecture that must implement FedRAMP High controls.

Microsoft in-scope cloud platforms & services

  • Azure and Azure Government
  • Dynamics 365 U.S. Government
  • Intune
  • Office 365 U.S. Government, Office 365 U.S. Government - High, Office 365 U.S. Government Defense
  • Power BI cloud service either as a standalone service or as included in an Office 365 branded plan or suite

Azure, Dynamics 365, and FedRAMP

For more information about Azure, Dynamics 365, and other online services compliance, see the Azure FedRAMP offering.

Office 365 and FedRAMP

  • Office 365 and Office 365 U.S. Government have an ATO from the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
  • Office 365 U.S. Government Defense has a P-ATO from the US Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). Any customer wishing to deploy Office 365 U.S. Government Defense may use the DISA P‑ATO to generate an agency ATO to document their acceptance of it.
  • Office 365 (enterprise and business plans) and Office 365 U.S. Government have a FedRAMP Agency ATO at the Moderate Impact Level from the DHHS Office of the Inspector General. Office 365 U.S. Government was the first cloud-based email and collaboration service to obtain this authorization.

Office 365 environments

Microsoft Office 365 is a multi-tenant hyperscale cloud platform and an integrated experience of apps and services available to customers in several regions worldwide. Most Office 365 services enable customers to specify the region where their customer data is located. Microsoft may replicate customer data to other regions within the same geographic area (for example, the United States) for data resiliency, but Microsoft will not replicate customer data outside the chosen geographic area.

This section covers the following Office 365 environments:

  • Client software (Client): commercial client software running on customer devices.
  • Office 365 (Commercial): the commercial public Office 365 cloud service available globally.
  • Office 365 Government Community Cloud (GCC): the Office 365 GCC cloud service is available for United States Federal, State, Local, and Tribal governments, and contractors holding or processing data on behalf of the US Government.
  • Office 365 Government Community Cloud - High (GCC High): the Office 365 GCC High cloud service is designed according to Department of Defense (DoD) Security Requirements Guidelines Level 4 controls and supports strictly regulated federal and defense information. This environment is used by federal agencies, the Defense Industrial Base (DIBs), and government contractors.
  • Office 365 DoD (DoD): the Office 365 DoD cloud service is designed according to DoD Security Requirements Guidelines Level 5 controls and supports strict federal and defense regulations. This environment is for the exclusive use by the US Department of Defense.

Use this section to help meet your compliance obligations across regulated industries and global markets. To find out which services are available in which regions, see the International availability information and the Where your Microsoft 365 customer data is stored article. For more information about Office 365 Government cloud environment, see the Office 365 Government Cloud article.

Your organization is wholly responsible for ensuring compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Information provided in this section does not constitute legal advice and you should consult legal advisors for any questions regarding regulatory compliance for your organization.

Office 365 applicability and in-scope services

Use the following table to determine applicability for your Office 365 services and subscription:

Applicability In-scope services
GCC Activity Feed Service, Bing Services, Bookings, Delve, Exchange Online, Exchange Online Protection, Infrastructure, Intelligent Services, Microsoft Teams, Office 365 Customer Portal, Office Online, Office Service, Office Usage Reports, OneDrive for Business, People Card, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business, Windows Ink
GCC High Activity Feed Service, Bing Services, Bookings, Exchange Online, Exchange Online Protection, Intelligent Services, Microsoft Teams, Office 365 Customer Portal, Office Online, Office Service Infrastructure, Office Usage Reports, OneDrive for Business, People Card, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business, Windows Ink
DoD Activity Feed Service, Bing Services, Bookings, Exchange Online Protection, Exchange Online, Intelligent Services, Microsoft Teams, Office 365 Customer Portal, Office Online, Office Service Infrastructure, Office Usage Reports, OneDrive for Business, People Card, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business, Windows Ink

Office 365 audits, reports, and certificates

Microsoft is required to recertify its cloud services each year to maintain its P-ATOs and ATOs. To do so, Microsoft must monitor and assess its security controls continuously, and demonstrate that the security of its services remains in compliance.

Frequently asked questions

Do Microsoft cloud services comply with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)?

FISMA is the federal law that requires US federal agencies and their partners to procure information systems and services only from organizations that adhere to FISMA requirements. Most agencies and their vendors that indicate that they are FISMA-compliant are referring to how they meet the controls identified by the NIST in Special Publication 800-53 rev 4. The FISMA process (but not the underlying standards themselves) was replaced by FedRAMP in 2011.

To whom does FedRAMP apply?

'FedRAMP is mandatory for federal agency cloud deployments and service models at the low and moderate risk impact levels.' Any federal agency that wants to engage a CSP may be required to meet FedRAMP specifications. In addition, companies that employ cloud technologies in products or services used by the federal government may be required to obtain an ATO.

Where does my agency start its own compliance effort?

For an overview of the steps federal agencies must take to successfully navigate FedRAMP and meet its requirements, go to Get Authorized: Agency Authorization.

Can I use Microsoft compliance in my agency's authorization process?

Yes. You may use the certifications of Microsoft cloud services as the foundation for any program or initiative that requires an ATO from a federal government agency. However, you need to achieve your own authorizations for components outside these services.

Use Microsoft Compliance Manager to assess your risk

Microsoft Compliance Manager is a feature in the Microsoft 365 compliance center to help you understand your organization's compliance posture and take actions to help reduce risks. Compliance Manager offers a premium template for building an assessment for this regulation. Find the template in the assessment templates page in Compliance Manager. Learn how to build assessments in Compliance Manager.

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