Bracing for Impact: The Finalization of CMMC Rules and What It Means for DoD Contractors

Bracing for Impact: The Finalization of CMMC Rules and What It Means for DoD Contractors

As the finalization of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) rule looms near, DoD contractors are on high alert. With CMMC 2.0, the Department of Defense (DoD) aims to streamline and strengthen cybersecurity requirements. This shift to a three-level model demands a strategic approach from contractors to ensure compliance and safeguard sensitive information. 

Although the final CMMC rule has not been officially released yet, recent developments have brought significant updates. As of November 21, 2023, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) website shows an important change in the status of the eight components and the overarching Framework of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Program (CMMC). Previously marked as “Pending Review,” these elements have now been updated to “Consistent with Change.” This shift suggests that the CMMC program, along with its eight foundational policy elements, is advancing towards publication. 

The “Consistent with Change” designation from OIRA indicates a significant step forward for the CMMC Model. It’s a common response from OIRA and typically reflects forward movement in the rule-making process, signaling a positive trajectory for CMMC’s progress.

Understanding the OIRA Review Process:

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a part of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), plays a crucial role in reviewing and approving regulations proposed by federal agencies, including those related to cybersecurity and defense.

The Process Steps:

  • Rulemaking Initiation: A federal agency, such as the Department of Defense (DoD) in the case of CMMC, develops a proposed rule or regulation.
  • Internal Agency Review: Before submitting to OIRA, the proposing agency reviews the rule internally to ensure it meets policy objectives and legal standards.
  • Submission to OIRA: The proposed rule is then submitted to OIRA for review. This submission includes the rule text, a regulatory impact analysis, and an explanation of why the regulation is necessary.
  • OIRA Review for Compliance: OIRA reviews the rule for compliance with various statutory and executive order requirements. This includes an assessment of the cost-benefit analysis, potential economic impacts, and consistency with the President’s policies and priorities.
  • Interagency Review: OIRA coordinates an interagency review process, allowing other federal agencies to provide input, especially if the rule impacts multiple sectors or overlaps with other regulatory areas.
  • Public and Stakeholder Engagement: Often, OIRA’s review process includes periods for public comment, where industry stakeholders, experts, and the general public can submit feedback on the proposed rule.
  • Revisions and Finalization: Based on the review and feedback, the proposing agency may revise the rule. OIRA then reviews these revisions before the final rule is approved.
  • Publication and Implementation: Once OIRA concludes its review and the rule is finalized, it is published in the Federal Register. The rule typically includes an effective date and details about implementation.

Implications for CMMC 2.0:

  • Thorough Evaluation: OIRA’s review of CMMC 2.0 ensures that the rule is evaluated for its impact on cybersecurity, cost implications for contractors, and alignment with national security objectives.

  • Stakeholder Input: The process allows for input from defense contractors, cybersecurity experts, and other stakeholders, potentially influencing the final form of CMMC 2.0.

  • Predictability and Transparency: The OIRA process helps in making the rulemaking process more predictable and transparent, allowing DoD contractors to prepare for upcoming changes.

What does this mean for DIB businesses?

The anticipated changes are not just a mere update but a significant pivot in how cybersecurity standards will be enforced in defense contracts. 

The timeframe to fulfill the necessary requirements for CMMC is narrowing. It’s crucial for companies within the Defense Industrial Base (DIB), irrespective of their size, to expedite their preparations for the impending CMMC certification requirement. 

On November 30, 2023, Pentagon spokesperson Tim Gorman shared that: “The CMMC 32 CFR Proposed Rule is in the final stages of review and processing prior to posting to the Federal Register for a 60-day public comment period.” 

When the rule is finalized, failing to comply could jeopardize a company’s capability to retain existing contracts or secure new ones associated with the Department of Defense. For Organizations Seeking Certification (OSCs), achieving compliance should be considered a matter of high priority.

Take steps toward CMMC compliance today

You don’t have to go it alone. Contact MNS Group today for help navigating the ins and outs of CMMC compliance.