Trust and accountability are critical in every relationship, and the government is now requiring it when working with Department of Defense (DOD) and other government agencies. In a world where cyberattacks cost businesses and governments billions of dollars each year, your proactive compliance and readiness can have a critical impact on the contracts you could secure and the business that you might gain. To guarantee the right level of service and security, most government clients demand compliance with key standards like NIST, CMMC, DFARS, and others.

Unless you specialize in cybersecurity, your internal IT likely will not meet strict government standards. If you are not NIST compliant, for instance, most bids will be rejected automatically. IT compliance is not optional anymore. You need to be compliant with key security standards, and the best way to do this is to partner with a managed services provider with a documented track record of security compliance like River Run.

Compliance – What Do You Need?

There are two key cybersecurity compliance standards businesses need to be compliant with when handling government and DOD projects. These are:

  • Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC)
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology – Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF)

Both of these are voluntary sets of standards. However, agencies often require compliance to move forward with projects. For instance, any government subcontractor that stores, transmits, or processes Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) needs to be compliant with the NIST’s SP 800-171 standard. Before 2018, self-attested compliance with security standards was often “good enough.” However, the situation has changed now. Under Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 252.204-7012, government partners and subcontractors need a documented and audited security compliance trail.

The “Why?” of These Requirements

Most companies do not have the comprehensive IT capabilities and talent to meet the NIST and CMMC requirements. This is why it is so important to work with a fully compliant MSP like River Run. As your security partner, the MSP you work with has access to your documents, sensitive data, and CUI. Compliance, in this case, is not just about meeting specific government needs for projects; it is also about working with a security partner who ensures your data stays safe and away from the eyes of cybercriminals.

CMMC Created to Bolster NIST

The NIST framework in general and NIST SP 800-171 in particular are voluntary sets of standards that companies can look at and work toward. When it comes to U.S. government projects, though, an aspirational approach to security – “we’ll get there someday” – is not going to cut it. Thanks to self-attestation and a lack of consistent verification methods, NIST SP 800-171 suffered from low levels of compliance: few of the firms contracted by the government actually bothered to meet all the NIST SP standards. This is where CMMC comes into the picture.


There is a common misconception that CMMC and NIST are one in the same. They are not. The CMMC was built to address the shortcomings of poor NIST compliance after U.S. government contractors were repeatedly hit with cyberattacks and data breaches they were not prepared to handle. The Department of Defense introduced the CMMC to ensure compliance at every level of the supply chain in the defense industrial base (DIB).

To Work with the DOD, You must CMMC

Unlike NIST, CMMC compliance is mandatory if you want to work on DOD projects. Your IT team will need a CMMC compliance certificate, or you will need to work with a fully compliant MSP. This is where River Run can bridge the gap between your in-house security and the CMMC’s stringent requirements.

When your business has the capabilities and experience to deliver solid results on U.S. government projects, IT compliance should not be holding you back. When you partner with River Run, you shift the security-compliant burden over to a proven, trusted MSP. We have a well-documented compliance process that is in full alignment with NIST and the more stringent CMMC provisions.

What does this mean for your business? You will be able to successfully bid on a wider range of U.S. government and DOD projects where security compliance is mandatory. By partnering with River Run, you get the benefits of a fully compliant IT and security team at the fraction of the cost of enforcing compliance in-house.

At River Run, we work with you to continually improve IT compliance over time as your business grows so that compliance issues will never be a roadblock when securing new projects.



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