Navigating cATO Challenges in the Federal Government: Best Practices and Strategies

Written by: Tim Johnson
5 min read

The Advanced Technology Academic Research Center (ATARC) recently organized a webinar series called Turks, where experts discussed strategies for enhancing operational efficiency and addressing concerns in government agencies. The panel consisted of esteemed professionals from various government agencies and industry sectors. The goal was to foster collaboration and learning among agencies. In this summary, we'll explore the strategies discussed during the panel and how they can improve efficiency and alleviate concerns in government agencies. Watch a recording of the webinar here


  • Ian Anderson, a lead DevSecOps engineer from the US Navy

  • Ida Mix, chief information security officer at the Bureau of Industry and Security

  • Steve Barney, associate director for the Architecture and Engineering Advisory Branch at the Internal Revenue Service

  • Trevor Bryant, a cybersecurity specialist at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

  • Lany Ford, CEO and co-founder of Arlo Solutions

Strategies for Enhanced Efficiency and Risk Mitigation

During the panel discussion, the experts highlighted several strategies that government agencies can adopt to improve efficiency and alleviate concerns. Let's delve into these strategies. 

Implement Zero-Trust Principles

Zero-trust security frameworks provide a comprehensive approach to mitigate risks and protect government agency assets. The panelists emphasized the following strategies for implementing zero-trust principles effectively: 

  • Identity and access management: Adopting strong identity and access management (IAM) practices is fundamental to zero trust. Agencies should implement multi-factor authentication (MFA), role-based access controls (RBAC), and privileged escalation protocols to ensure that only authorized individuals can access sensitive systems and data.

  • Microsegmentation: Breaking down network infrastructure into smaller, isolated segments allows for granular control over data flow and limits lateral movement in case of a security breach. Microsegmentation helps contain threats, restrict unauthorized access, and minimize the impact of potential breaches.

  • Continuous monitoring and analytics: Implementing real-time monitoring and analytics enables agencies to detect and respond to security incidents promptly. Anomaly detection, behavior analytics, and threat intelligence integration provide valuable insights into potential threats and help prevent security breaches.

  • Training and awareness: Educating employees about zero-trust principles, cybersecurity best practices, and potential threats is crucial. Regular training programs create a security-conscious culture within agencies. This reduces the likelihood of human error and improves overall security posture.

Streamline Processes Through Automation and Standardization

Automation and standardization can significantly enhance efficiency, reduce errors, and streamline processes within government agencies. The panelists recommended the following strategies: 

  • Robotic process automation (RPA): RPA can automate repetitive, rule-based tasks such as data entry, document processing, and report generation. By reducing manual effort, RPA improves accuracy, accelerates process completion, and frees up valuable human resources for more complex and strategic tasks.

  • Standardized workflows: Developing standardized workflows and processes helps eliminate ambiguity, reduce inefficiencies, and ensures consistent delivery of services. By establishing clear guidelines and protocols, agencies can optimize resource allocation, improve accountability, and enhance overall productivity.

  • Data management and analytics: Leveraging data management and analytics tools enables agencies to gain actionable insights, make informed decisions, and drive performance improvements. By analyzing data patterns and trends, agencies can identify areas for optimization, predict future needs, and allocate resources efficiently.

Collaboration tools and platforms: Deploying modern collaboration tools and platforms facilitates seamless communication, knowledge sharing, and project coordination across different teams and agencies. Centralized document repositories, real-time messaging, and virtual meeting solutions promote collaboration, agility, and efficiency.

Automation and standardization can significantly enhance efficiency, reduce errors, and streamline processes within government agencies.

About CloudBees

Why is CloudBees hosting a panel discussion on Continuous Authority to Operate (cATO)? Simple.  We provide a number of the essential backbone components that lead to cATO.  According to the DoD Memo, cATO requires three layers of demonstrable capabilities:

  1. An approved DevSecOps reference design

  2. On-going visibility of key cybersecurity activities inside of the system boundary with a robust continuous monitoring of RMF controls

  3. Compensating controls in order to respond to cyber threats in real time.

These capabilities equate to the strategies of continuous monitoring, standardized workflows, and analytics for informed decision-making, as mentioned above. 

How does CloudBees deliver these capabilities? CDRO’s modeled software delivery pipelines are that DevSecOps reference architecture, ensuring that the software delivery process is repeatable, consistent, flexible, and includes the security scanning required by the AO or PO. CloudBees Compliance is the vital layer of risk-based continuous security and compliance monitoring - even in production. Finally, automated rollbacks and feature flags provide instantaneous controls to mitigate risks as they happen. The combination of these solutions moves ATO from check lists to automated risk-based decisions for both velocity and enhanced security.


These strategies provide a roadmap for agencies seeking to optimize their processes and navigate the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity and digital transformation. By adopting these strategies, government agencies can improve their operational effectiveness and mitigate risks effectively. The insights shared by the panelists offer valuable guidance for agencies striving for efficiency and security in their operations. After watching the video recording of the webinar, scroll down to access the whitepaper, or click here. 

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