At long last, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) has provided its interim rule, published in the Federal Register on September 29, 2020, amending the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (“DFARS”) to set forth requirements for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (“CMMC”) program, as well as new requirements for a “NIST SP 800-171 DoD Assessment Methodology.” The interim rule is effective November 30, 2020, and comments to the interim rule should be submitted by November 30 as well.
NIST SP 800-171 DoD Assessment Methodology
For contractors already required to comply with NIST SP 800-171, per DFARS 252.204-7012, DoD now is going to hold those contractors accountable, instituting an assessment and reporting system to verify compliance before new contracts can be awarded. While the new requirement is for information to be provided prior to contract award, DoD encourages affected contractors to begin their self-assessments immediately.
The Assessment Methodology will include three assessment levels: (1) Basic, (2) Medium, and (3) High. The Basic Assessment will be a self-assessment completed by the contractor prior to contract award, while the Medium and High Assessments are available options for DoD to complete after award. DoD estimates it will conduct 200 Medium Assessments and 110 High Assessments each year. Additional information regarding DoD assessments is available here.
There is a specific scoring methodology to be followed for the Assessment. A contractor that has fully implemented all 110 NIST SP 800-171 controls will have a score of “110.” It goes without saying that contractors will need to be careful here – an inaccurate report could subject a company to exposure under the False Claims Act.
Assessments will be valid for three years unless there are issues requiring a reassessment sooner. The newly-announced Assessment Methodology appears to be an immediate solution to provide DoD some peace of mind on contractor data security until the CMMC program can be fully implemented.
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