August 14, 2023 3 min read

Secure Your Future: How FISMA Compliance Fuels Federal Contract Success

In an increasingly digital world, the safeguarding of sensitive information and critical systems has never been more crucial. This is particularly true for federal agencies that handle vast amounts of classified data, from national security information to personal citizen records. The Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) was enacted to address these concerns and ensure that federal systems and data remain secure.

Beyond its primary purpose of enhancing cybersecurity, FISMA compliance has emerged as a catalyst for success in securing federal contracts. 

Understanding FISMA Compliance

Enacted in 2002, (then amended in 2014) FISMA was established to address the growing challenges associated with securing federal information systems. The law mandates federal agencies to develop, implement, and maintain comprehensive information security programs. These programs are designed to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access, ensure the confidentiality and integrity of data, and maintain the availability of critical systems.

Key Components of FISMA Compliance:

  • Risk Management Framework (RMF): FISMA introduced the RMF, a structured process that federal agencies and organizations must follow to manage cybersecurity risks effectively. The RMF consists of steps that guide the identification, assessment, and mitigation of potential risks/
  • Security Controls: FISMA outlines a set of 20 security controls that organizations must implement to safeguard information systems. These controls cover areas such as access control, security training, incident response, and more.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Compliance with FISMA requires continuous monitoring of security controls to ensure ongoing effectiveness. This proactive approach helps organizations identify and address vulnerabilities promptly.
  • Security Documentation: FISMA compliance necessitates the creation and maintenance of extensive documentation, including security plans, risk assessments, and contingency plans.
  • Reporting Requirements: Organizations subject to FISMA must report on their security posture and compliance efforts to federal oversight entities, ensuring transparency and accountability.

The Federal Contract Advantage

While FISMA compliance may seem like a regulatory hurdle, it offers numerous advantages for businesses seeking federal contracts, particularly in the realm of information technology and cybersecurity services.

  • Competitive Edge: In the highly competitive world of federal contracting, businesses with established FISMA compliance have a competitive edge. Government agencies prioritize partners that can demonstrate a commitment to robust cybersecurity practices.
  • Trust and Confidence: FISMA compliance signifies a commitment to securing sensitive information. This fosters trust and confidence among federal agencies that the organization can safeguard their data effectively.
  • Reduced Risk Exposure: FISMA compliance helps businesses reduce their risk exposure to security breaches and data compromises. This is crucial when handling classified information and sensitive citizen data.
  • Strategic Partnerships: Government agencies often seek long-term partnerships with vendors who have demonstrated FISMA compliance. These partnerships can result in stable and lucrative contracts.
  • Market Access: Many federal contracts mandate that vendors comply with FISMA regulations. Organizations that meet these requirements can access a wider range of contracting opportunities.
  • Regulatory Alignment: FISMA compliance aligns with broader federal cybersecurity initiatives, such as the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). This alignment streamlines the pursuit of contracts requiring multiple security certifications.
  • Enhanced Reputation: FISMA compliance contributes to an organization's reputation as a reliable and responsible partner. This reputation can lead to positive referrals and recommendations within the federal contracting community.

Challenges and Considerations

While the advantages of FISMA compliance for federal contracting are clear, achieving and maintaining compliance can be complex and resource-intensive.

  • Resource Allocation: Developing and maintaining a comprehensive information security program requires dedicated resources, including skilled personnel and financial investments.
  • Technical Expertise: Organizations must possess the technical expertise to navigate the intricacies of FISMA compliance, including risk assessments, security controls, and reporting requirements.
  • Evolving Threat Landscape: Cyber threats are dynamic and continually evolving. Organizations must stay current with emerging threats and adapt their security measures accordingly.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Continuous monitoring of security controls demands ongoing effort and resources. Organizations must ensure that controls remain effective as threats evolve.
  • Regulatory Changes: FISMA requirements may evolve over time due to changes in technology and cybersecurity best practices. Organizations must stay informed about regulatory updates.

FISMA for Federal Contractor Success

In a world where cybersecurity breaches have far-reaching consequences, FISMA compliance serves as a beacon of security assurance. Beyond being a regulatory requirement, FISMA compliance is a strategic asset that empowers businesses to excel in the federal contracting landscape.

By demonstrating a commitment to robust information security practices, organizations position themselves as trusted partners capable of safeguarding critical data and systems. As federal agencies continue to prioritize cybersecurity, businesses that embrace FISMA compliance pave the way for a future of success, resilience, and opportunity in the realm of federal contracts.

About Arlington

We are Arlington, a team of innovative, solution-oriented, highly agile, and well-versed professionals with decades of experience in working with America’s defense industry. From emerging cybersecurity regulations to helping our clients solve complex security & compliance solutions – and so much more – you can trust Arlington, the firm that’s Dedicated to Defense®. Learn more at