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Government agencies, public institutions, contractors, and vendors use all kinds of technology to do better work, faster. In this overview, we touch on the kinds of tools they use as well as the benefits and use cases of automation technology in government.
Table of Contents
Government compliance is the act of making sure an agency’s systems are configured to meet regulatory standards of security. Security guidelines are created to protect the systems and infrastructure that citizens and governments rely on.
Ensuring continuous compliance in government is of utmost importance. Public sector institutions are trusted with managing all kinds of sensitive data. Every government agency has a good reason to ensure the integrity of its systems, like securing citizen data, protecting information of national importance, and defending against outside attacks.
In the US, the move toward defensible, resilient infrastructure in the public sector has momentum at the federal level. The National Cybersecurity Strategy laid out by the Biden-Harris administration in 2023 attempts to expand minimum security requirements in critical sectors and modernize Federal networks.
And that goes beyond simple storage and transfer of information. It extends to the security of IT and infrastructure, as well as the contractors and vendors supplying technology in government agencies. Below are a few of the guidelines used to ensure technology in government is secure and compliant.
DISA STIGs are Security Technical Implementation Guidelines (STIGs) from the Defense Information Security Agency (DISA). They outline the thousands of controls for ensuring the security of operating systems, apps, and more in government agencies.
Compliance with DISA STIGs is required in certain government agencies. As you can imagine, manual configuration and implementation of DISA STIGs takes an incredible amount of time and effort. Worse yet, failure to prove compliance with DISA STIGs during an audit can carry heavy fines.
Compliance automation is one way government agencies subject to DISA STIGs can get compliant, stay compliant, and prove compliance to auditors.
Learn about automated compliance for DISA STIGs >>
CIS Benchmarks are cybersecurity standards created by the Center for Internet Security (CIS). These configuration recommendations apply to various industries, including government, business, and academia. CIS Benchmarks are designed to help protect systems against threats.
Like DISA STIGs, CIS Benchmark compliance is important for government agencies – and like many elements of government compliance, they can be automated and enforced with government automation tools and configuration enforcement.
Learn more about automated compliance enforcement for CIS Benchmarks >>
The ACSC Essential Eight (or Essential 8) is a compliance framework created by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC). It applies to Australian organizations and is particularly important for government agencies, which are subject to a huge amount of scrutiny around the security of their IT.
Strategies laid out by the ACSC Essential 8 include app control, Microsoft Office macro settings, restricting administrative privileges, OS patching, using multi-factor authentication, creating regular backups, and more – most of which can be streamlined to some degree using IT automation.
Learn more about automating the Australia Cyber Security Centre Essential 8 >>
Rather than a single set of guidelines or benchmarks, DoD compliance is a measurement of the ability of an organization to meet all compliance requirements set by the US Department of Defense (DoD) and its affiliates. Those affiliates include the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).
DoD compliance applies to all contractors, subcontractors, and other third-party service providers who work with the DoD or handle sensitive DoD information.
Learn more about DoD compliance >>
DISA STIGs are one requirement of DoD compliance. Another is the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), a DoD framework for protecting government data and evaluating the compliance of DoD contractors’ cybersecurity.
Get up to speed on the DoD’s CMMC compliance >>
Digital transformation has fundamentally changed the way many industries work. Government agencies (and contractors who work with them) bear more risk than some other industries when it comes time to modernizing their legacy systems.
That’s what makes risk management in government so vital: When updating digital systems, security and compliance need to remain operational. Ensuring continuous compliance during major updates (especially to mission-critical systems) takes a combination of automation and configuration management to set and enforce compliance.
Read more about government risk management >>
Puppet partners with Carahsoft, a provider of government IT solutions, to increase the availability of Puppet Enterprise for government agencies. Puppet Enterprise is available on government purchasing vehicles like the General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule 70, NASA SEWP, and more federal, state, and local contracts.
Read more about how Puppet + Carahsoft support government agencies >>
Government agencies use cloud technology for faster work and cheaper management. Using cloud technology in government environments is subject to many security regulations.
Cloud computing has the potential to make work in government agencies faster, more efficient, and more secure. It’s so lucrative for the public sector that in 2019, the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) put forth Cloud Smart, a long-term strategy for driving cloud adoption in Federal agencies.
Any government agency that wants to use the cloud will undoubtedly run into challenges. Cloud migration and cloud security are two of the biggest roadblocks preventing government agencies from cloud adoption.
For governments, it’s cheaper to deploy and manage apps and workflows in the cloud than strictly on-premises. In addition to lower costs, migrating existing infrastructure to the cloud allows government agencies to document, monitor, manage virtualize assets, and automate processes more easily.
Read more about government cloud migration >>
Migrating governments to the cloud comes with its own set of challenges, including configuration management, compliance, and scaling infrastructure. Those challenges are magnified when deploying across multiple cloud platforms and providers. While deploying across clouds can pay off with greater efficiency and availability of infrastructure, it's almost always subject to skill gaps, hidden costs, and more.
Learn how government agencies navigate multi-cloud deployment >>
The adoption of cloud technology in government is also subject to regulation and approval. Zero-trust cloud security, which requires all users on a network to be authorized, is required of all US federal agencies. It’s also becoming standard for many organizations outside the public sector.
Read more about zero-trust adoption for government >>
FedRAMP accreditation is one such benchmark of cybersecurity for US federal agencies. FedRAMP is a cybersecurity assessment that determines what cloud services US federal agencies use.
Learn more about FedRAMP for federal agencies >>
Government agencies are incentivized to modernize their infrastructure for flexibility, security, risk management, efficiency, enforcement, and user satisfaction. An automation fabric makes it possible to provision, deploy, configure, and maintain systems with fewer resources.
Learn more about government automation + what it entails >>
Sometimes, the need for automation in federal environments goes unaddressed for too long. On the Puppet podcast, hear from Bryan Belanger, Principal Consultant at Fervid, about how the ability of infrastructure as code to check code into version control and test it makes a huge difference for organizations in highly regulated industries like government:
“We're trying to address a problem that is just in generally accepted internally for a while, but is actually kind of like an elephant in the room.”
Listen to the full podcast episode about Puppet in federal environments >>
Technology in government is commonly used to achieve two competing goals: Digital transformation and continuous compliance. Infrastructure automation and configuration management are central – and Puppet is uniquely suited to provide the services government agencies need to ensure both.
With Puppet, government agencies can implement intelligent automation for continuous compliance, orchestration, monitoring, and remediation – all at the scale agencies need. Try or demo Puppet Enterprise for free and get FIPS 140-2 certification, visibility, reporting, compliance, role-based access control (RBAC), code management, enterprise support, and more.