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Biden Administration Orders Sweeping Directives to Federal Agencies and Contractors to Improve U.S. Cybersecurity

May 13, 2021

The Biden Administration issued a detailed Executive Order (EO) on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity yesterday aimed at strengthening the Federal Government’s cybersecurity defense posture.  The EO calls for the creation of new cybersecurity standards, as well as updates to FAR- and DFARS-based contract requirements, affecting both information and operational technology.  Much of the EO addresses implementation throughout the Federal Civilian Executive Branch (FCEB) Agencies and the Department of Defense (DoD).  The EO encompasses a broad array of cybersecurity initiatives for fast track implementation in partnership with the private sector, notably including:

  • Requiring mandatory breach reporting to the Federal Government, applicable to both contractors and cloud service providers (CSPs) accessing Federal information systems;
  • Implementing mandatory multifactor authentication, encryption and logging requirements for Federal information systems, applicable to contractors operating networks on behalf of the Federal Government;
  • Creating a software supply chain security standard, including a consumer software labeling program, focused on secure software development practices that will impact Federal software acquisitions;
  • Modernizing security practices including Zero Trust Architecture and accelerated movement to secure cloud services through FedRAMP;
  • Establishing a Cyber Safety Review Board, modeled after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which will provide the Federal Government greater authorities to investigate significant cyber incidents occurring on contractor and CSP networks; and
  • Standardizing a Federal Government Playbook for incident response activities, which will create a new standard of care for private industry and government contractors. 

The EO directs the Federal Government to prioritize these initiatives over the next year, with some actions to be implemented as soon as within the next 30 days.  Contractors should anticipate a myriad of proposed regulatory changes over the next 60 – 90 days as agencies begin implementing these wide-ranging cyber initiatives.

For more information, please contact the professional(s) listed below, or your regular Crowell & Moring contact.

Evan D. Wolff
Partner – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.202.624.2615
Gabriel M. Ramsey
Partner – San Francisco
Phone: +1.415.365.7207
Michael G. Gruden, CIPP/G
Counsel – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.202.624.2545
Maida Oringher Lerner
Senior Counsel – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.202.624.2596