Comprehensive Guide to CMMC Compliance Consulting

In 2022, 800,944 cybercrime complaints were reported to the FBI. This was 5% less than in 2021. However, the losses attributed to these crimes increased by 49% to $10.3 billion. These cases can affect any industry, including Defense. However, the DoD has a very low tolerance for cybercrime because of the sensitive nature of the information it holds. Therefore, the DoD requires organizations and contractors to adhere to specific security standards, including CMMC 2.0. This is where CMMC compliance consulting partners come in. 

This guide will cover all you should know about CMMC.

What Is CMMC?

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is a cybersecurity framework designed to enhance the security posture of the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) and their supply chain. Developed by the Department of Defense (DoD), the CMMC ensures that contractors and subcontractors handling sensitive information have the appropriate cybersecurity measures in place. In November 2021, the DoD introduced CMMC 2.0 with significant changes from the previous version. This was done to streamline the process and focus more on the requirements set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

What are Main Changes in CMMC 2.0?

  1. Emphasis on NIST Requirements: CMMC 2.0 prioritizes NIST SP 800-171 as the primary set of requirements that businesses at acquisition level two need to meet for CMMC compliance. This shift allows organizations to concentrate on NIST standards, reducing the focus on CMMC-specific requirements from CMMC 1.0.
  2. Reduced Number of Maturity Levels: The new framework reduced the certification levels from the previous 5 to three, including;
    • Level 1– Foundational cyber hygiene aligned with FAR with basic safeguarding measures expected. This level is expected from DoD contractors that deal with FCI. 
    • Level 2– Advanced cyber hygiene aligned with NIST. This level is expected from DoD contractors that deal with CUI.
    • Level 3– Expert cyber hygiene aligned with NIST. This level is required for DoD contractors dealing with sensitive or highest priority programs with CUI. 
  1. Removal of Maturity Processes: Unlike CMMC 1.0, which required businesses to document specific practices and provide evidence of their implementation, CMMC 2.0 has removed the need for process documentation. While evidence of control implementation is still necessary, detailed documentation of policy and procedures is no longer mandatory.
  2. Self-Assessment Option: CMMC 2.0 introduces the option for businesses not handling critical Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) to conduct self-assessments instead of third-party assessments. However, a senior executive must attest to the completeness and accuracy of the self-assessment, with potential penalties for misrepresentation.
  3. Use of Time Limited POA&Ms: CMMC 2.0 allows businesses to use Plans of Action and Milestones (POA&Ms) to outline corrective actions for unmet requirements, with certain restrictions. Some requirements cannot be included in a POA&M, and businesses must achieve a specific score to be eligible to use a POA&M.

These changes aim to make the process more efficient and focused, reducing unnecessary variability in processes and actively mitigating risks.

Why the Evolution from CMMC 1.0 to CMMC 2.0?

CMMC 2.0 includes cyber protection standards that aim to protect data integrity while ensuring that organizations remain flexible enough to meet their specific compliance needs. In CMMC 1.0, there were 5 maturity levels followed by an extensive list of cybersecurity processes and practices that were overwhelming for many members of the DIB. The current framework is simple, consolidates the requirements, and provides a manageable approach to achieving compliance. Below are the main reasons for the revision: 

Cost Reduction

CMMC 2.0 considerably reduces organizational overheads by allowing self-assessments for the lower risk levels, streamlining requirements, and focusing on the most essential cybersecurity practices. Additionally, the simplified approach improves accessibility, particularly for small and medium-sized organizations, by reducing the financial burdens associated with third-party assessments and consultancy. Therefore, more suppliers can comply with this framework and invest more in cybersecurity improvements. As a result, the security posture of the DIB is enhanced, and there is a continued competitiveness of the defense industry in the U.S.


CMMC 1.0 required all DoD contractors and subcontractors to obtain certification, which posed a scalability challenge. However, organizations handling FCI and a limited amount of CUI can perform self-assessments under CMMC 2.0. The self-assessment is done against the NIST SP 800-171 security requirements. The findings of this self-assessment don’t result in a certification; it is evidence of compliance.

The organization seeking certification (OSC) then submits the findings to the Supplier Performance Risk System (SPRS). However, if the OSC manages a significant amount of CUI, it needs certification, and a third-party assessment should be performed by a Certified Third-Party Assessment Organization (C3PAO). Such an approach helps streamline the certification process for organizations, reduces the workload on Assessors, and enables them (Assessors) to focus on assessing higher-risk contractors.

Enhanced Reciprocity

CMMC 2.0 aims to improve reciprocity with other cybersecurity standards and frameworks. It ensures this by aligning its requirements closely with widely adopted guidelines like NIST SP 800-171 and recognizing compliance with the existing standards. Such an alignment reduces the duplication of effort and lessens the burden on entities already compliant with similar requirements.

This streamlines the certification process and minimizes the need for additional documentation and Assessment. Through fostering greater interoperability between different cybersecurity standards and CMMC 2.0, the DoD encourages a more coherent and efficient approach to the management of cyber risks. This ultimately enhances the overall security posture of the DIB.

Accelerated Implementation

CMMC 2.0 revisions streamline the framework, facilitating faster implementation by permitting self-assessments for organizations managing lower-risk information and focusing on essential cybersecurity practices. This streamlined approach allows organizations more quickly identify and address any gaps in their cybersecurity posture, resulting in shorter timeframes to attain compliance.

Besides helping the OSCs, CMMC 2.0 reduces the workload on C3PAOs, allowing them to focus on higher-risk contractors, which expedites the compliance process. Such changes facilitate an efficient adoption of cybersecurity best practices across the DIB, ensuring an effective and timely response to the ever-evolving cyber threats.

Risk-Based Approach

The changes that brought about CMMC 2.0 put emphasis on a risk-based approach to cybersecurity through tailoring certification requirements based on how sensitive the organization’s information is. Such an approach allows OSCs to conduct self-assessments of FCI and a subset of CUI they hold, resulting in an efficient resource allocation. It means that C3PAOs can focus on assessing OSCs that hold a significant amount of CUI. By streamlining the certification processes and prioritizing critical cybersecurity practices, CMMC 2.0 ensures OSCs can protect sensitive data effectively while reducing the burden of compliance for a more resilient and secure DIB. 

Is CMMC 2.0 the Same as NIST 800-171?

No. While both CMMC 2.0 and NIST 800-171 aim to enhance cybersecurity, they are not the same. NIST SP 800-171 is a publication that provides guidelines for security practices for non-federal organizations handling Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). It outlines the necessary security controls that these organizations should implement. On the other hand, CMMC is a certification program that incorporates the practices and standards defined in NIST SP 800-171. However, it goes a step further by introducing different maturity levels and requiring third-party audits. This means that organizations bidding for contracts with the Department of Defense (DoD) must demonstrate compliance with CMMC 2.0 at a certain maturity level.

How Long is CMMC 2.0 Certification Valid?

Once an OSC is certified under CMMC 2.0 level 2, that certification remains valid for 3 years. However, because CMMC 2.0 level one compliance is based on self-assessment organizations, annual self-assessments are mandated to such organizations. Triennial third-party assessments are a requirement for organizations certified under CMMC 2.0 level 2 and Level 3 and want to continue working on DoD contracts. It is worth noting that ongoing CMMC 2.0 compliance is required during the 3-year period.

Who Needs To Comply With CMMC 2.0?

CMMC 2.0 compliance is required for all contractors and subcontractors who are part of the Department of Defense (DoD) supply chain. This includes prime contractors and subcontractors who work directly or indirectly with the DoD. The level of CMMC 2.0 certification required depends on the sensitivity of the information handled by the organization. Organizations dealing with Federal Contract Information (FCI) or Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) are required to comply with CMMC 2.0. However, companies that solely produce Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) products are exempt from CMMC requirements. The following members of the DoD supply chain need to be CMMC 2.0 compliant:

  • Education: Educational institutions involved in defense-related training, research, or educational services under a DoD contract should be CMMC compliant.
  • IT Services: Any company providing IT services to DoD organizations must also achieve CMMC 2.0 compliance. This could include network support, software development, data analytics, cybersecurity, cloud services, IT infrastructure support or maintenance, etc.
  • Professional Services: Any company contracted by the DoD for engineering, administration, logistics, consulting, etc., should also achieve certification under some CMMC 2.0 maturity level.
  • Research and Development: Any contractor or subcontractor involved in the R&D of defense-related products and technologies also should achieve CMMC 2.0 compliance.
  • Manufacturers: Organizations that manufacture defense-related articles or components used in defense products must be CMMC 2.0 certified and ITAR compliant at the same time.
  • Aerospace: Entities involved in the manufacturing and developing space vehicles, aircraft, aircraft components, and related spare parts and equipment the DoD uses should comply with CMMC 2.0.

Is CMMC 2.0 Applicable Currently?

Yes, CMMC 2.0 is applicable currently. The Department of Defense (DoD) released the final version of the CMMC 2.0 framework on November 30, 2022. CMMC 2.0 requirements are being phased into DoD contracts, with full implementation expected by October 2025. Because of the extensive nature of CMMC 2.0 compliance requirements, the OSC assessment Officials should start to understand and implement the requirements.

What Is The DFARS Interim Rule?

The DFARS Interim Rule 2019-D041 is a significant development in the cybersecurity landscape for DoD contractors. This regulation implements the NIST SP 800-171 DoD Assessment and the CMMC framework. It mandates that all contractors and subcontractors must post a current assessment into the SPRS as a prerequisite to submitting bids for new contracts or renewing existing contracts with the DoD. This applies to both prime contractors and subcontractors. The SPRS will be used to verify CMMC levels. Contractors are required to assess their compliance with NIST SP 800-171, a set of guidelines for protecting CUI, and record their status in SPRS. This ensures that contractors are not only implementing adequate cybersecurity controls but also continuously monitoring and improving their security posture.

DFARS Interim Rule and CMMC 2.0 Compliance

The DFARS Interim Rule plays a crucial role in enforcing CMMC 2.0 compliance. Under this rule, contractors are required to achieve a certain level of CMMC certification, depending on the sensitivity of the information they handle. This ensures that all contractors have implemented adequate cybersecurity controls, as defined by the CMMC framework. However, the CMMC requirements will apply only to certain new contracts, task orders, or delivery orders awarded from November 30th, 2020, through September 30th, 2025. During this period, the inclusion of a CMMC requirement must be approved by the USD(A&S). On or after October 1st, 2025, CMMC requirements will apply to all solicitations and contracts or task orders or delivery orders, except for solicitations and contracts or orders solely for the acquisition of commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) items. In addition to enforcing CMMC 2.0 compliance and NIST SP 800-171 adherence, the DFARS Interim Rule also introduces several other key requirements:

  • Supply Chain Risk Management: Contractors are required to implement a supply chain risk management program to identify and mitigate risks in their supply chain.
  • Incident Reporting: Contractors must report cyber incidents to the DoD within 72 hours of discovery.
  • Flow Down Requirements: Prime contractors are required to flow down cybersecurity requirements to their subcontractors.

What Is The Deadline For CMMC 2.0 Compliance?

Adopting and implementing CMMC 2.0 in all defense solicitations and contracts will take 3 years, with the aim of finishing by October 2025 in line with the DFARS interim rule. OSCs should start their compliance and security journey as early as now. By understanding more about certification and taking measures to improve cybersecurity in line with CMMC 2.0 guidelines, organizations can hope to be certified upon completing the rule-making process. Because to be eligible to bid on DoD contracts requires CMMC 2.0 certification, getting certified early can improve your chances of winning a contract.

How Much Does CMMC 2.0 Implementation Cost?

The CMMC 2.0 implementation cost depends on factors such as:

  • Consultancy costs
  • Fees the C3PAO Charges.
  • The maturity level an organization seeks certification at.
  • The cost incurred in the procurement of personnel and technologies
  • The complexity of the organization seeking certification
  • Size of the organization seeking certification
  • Costs incurred during the implementation of NIST SP 800-171 controls
  • The type of data an OSC handles

Because of the variance between the fees charged by different C3PAOs, you should get quotes from different C3PAOs and choose one that fits your budget. However, the DoD has plans to release a detailed cost analysis for every CMMC 2.0 maturity level as part of the rule-making. However, it’s widely anticipated that the certification costs for CMMC 2.0 will be considerably lower compared to CMMC 1.0. 

What Are The Benefits Of CMMC 2.0 Compliance?

CMMC 2.0 compliance is essential for businesses working with the DoD or seeking to do so in the future. Here’s why it matters:

  • Protecting Sensitive Information: Ensuring the security of sensitive information, such as Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and Federal Contract Information (FCI), is paramount to national security.
  • Competitive Advantage: Achieving CMMC compliance demonstrates your organization’s commitment to cybersecurity, giving you a competitive edge when bidding for DoD contracts.
  • Improved cybersecurity: Achieving CMMC compliance involves implementing various cybersecurity controls, especially those under NIST SP 800-171. This enhances an organization’s cybersecurity posture by establishing stringent controls and best practices.
  • Eligibility for DoD contracts: Most DoD contracts require that an organization be CMMC certified. Thus, non-compliant organizations risk losing their ability to participate in DoD contracts and may face legal penalties.
  • Regulatory compliance: Achieving CMMC compliance aligns your organization with the always-changing regulatory environment.

The CMMC 2.0 Compliance Checklist

Achieving CMMC 2.0 compliance is not a one-off thing. It is a progressive and systematic process of implementing best cybersecurity practices specified in NIST SP 800-171 and elsewhere. So, if you are wondering how do I become CMMC 2.0 compliant, below is a CMMC compliance checklist: 

Identify your CMMC compliance level

What type of government data do you handle or will handle? This is a critical question to ask yourself as it determines the CMMC level at which you should achieve compliance. However, every DoD contractor or subcontractor must achieve a CMMC level 1 compliance. However, a level 2 or level 3 certification is required if your business handles CUI.

Select the Project Lead (OSC Assessment Official)

Upon determining the maturity level you need compliance at, you will need to appoint or identify a CMMC lead within your organization. Additionally, you should give the lead the required executive support. The OSC Assessment Official will champion the projects and work with outside consultants where necessary. However, the OSC Assessment Official should develop or have a high-level understanding of CMMC requirements. In larger organizations, these responsibilities may be assigned to a dedicated small team. However, the best practice when assigning members to that team is to do it alongside the CMMC 2.0 practice areas.

Optimize CUI interaction

Understanding how CUI interacts with your environment is critical as it impacts compliance costs. Therefore, you should identify the touchpoints between your systems and CUI – from that moment it enters your environment to its processing, storage, use, and eventual exit. Upon identifying these touchpoints, you can then work towards minimizing CUI interactions. This helps reduce the scope of CMMC compliance requirements. Doing this helps you save on costs and improve your overall compliance posture.

Limit CUI access

The next step towards CMMC compliance is reducing the number of employees or individuals with access to CUI. This streamlines the compliance process and reduces unnecessary compliance overheads. Limiting access will greatly reduce the need for extensive training and costly licensing. 

Choose the right CUI protection technologies

CMMC compliance also requires that you choose the right technologies. For instance, you should use compliant CUI processing, storage, marking, and transmission technologies. Go for FIPS-validated cryptographic modules and hardware and store CUI in FedRAMP moderate baseline Cloud environments.

Implement required security practices

To achieve CMMC compliance, reviewing and improving your organization’s policies, procedures, and technologies is essential. This will help ensure you meet the requirements and maintain the highest cybersecurity standards.

Consult a certified RP to help determine your score

The best and easiest way to achieve CMMC compliance is by working with seasoned professionals – CMMC RPs who have helped OSCs achieve compliance. They can help you get the documentation organized and implement technology. An RP will help reduce any compliance gaps in your environment. They might even catch something you could have missed or address the unclear things on your SSP. If your RP encounters any obstacles, you must address the security gaps identified. This may require engaging the services of a managed service provider (MSP) to help mitigate these risks, particularly if your internal capabilities are limited.

Prepare and maintain Your System Security Plan (SSP)

You should note that having all compliance practices in place isn’t sufficient to achieve certification. You also should ensure that your documentation is accurate and up-to-date. All level 3 and some level 2 certification requirements need to be validated by a third-party assessor. Hence, you must prepare a detailed SSP that outlines how each security control is used.

Conduct a self-assessment against NIST 800-171A

Now that you have a clear target, you will want to determine where your system currently stands—conducting a self-assessment against NIST 800-171A. This publication has 320 objectives that map to NIST SP 800-171’s 110 security controls. Every control can have multiple objectives, and a contractor must meet them ALL to satisfy it. This means that organizations seeking level 2 or level 3 certification should conduct self-assessments against all the NIST 800-171A’s 320 objectives. However, organizations seeking certification at level 1 only need to self-assess against the required 17 controls. Each of the 110 controls in NIST 800-171 is assigned a weighted score of 1, 3, or 5 points. This results in possible scores for NIST 800-171 ranging from -203 (indicating no controls satisfied) to +110 (indicating all controls met).

Develop a Plan of Action and Milestones (POA&Ms)

An OSC might be unable to implement all the NIST SP 800-171 110 controls. Fortunately, CMMC 2.0 allows time-limited POA&Ms for any unimplemented controls. Sometimes, the OSC may also have implemented a practice but have yet to document it properly. In such an instance, they can arrange those practices in a Limited Practice Deficiency Correction document. Creating a POA&M can help the OSC plan for resource and technology upgrades. It is worth noting that POA&M are only allowed for 180 days, and only low-severity practices can be included.

Close security gaps 

Upon identifying the unmet controls, the OSC should take the necessary actions to implement the controls. Remember that POA&Ms are time-bound and expire within 180 days after a C3PAO assessment. Entities must prioritize addressing security gaps identified during the self-assessment or gap analysis.

Enlist an RPO or an accredited C3PAO to conduct final checks

Just before the Assessment by a C3PAO, you can optionally hire outside help to conduct final checks. You can work with a trained and certified C3PAO or RPO. RPOs are compliance experts and help OSCs in their certification efforts. However, some C3PAOs also act as RPOs to help the OSCs prepare for the third-party Assessment. However, due to a potential conflict of interest, you can’t hire the same C3PAO to prepare you for the Assessment and conduct the third-party Assessment. The final check ensures that an OSC is adequately prepared for the Assessment and they have the required evidence.

Arrange an assessment with an accredited C3PAO

Finally, you’ll need to enlist a certified and Accredited third-party assessor to conduct the Assessment. They will use interviews, tests, and examination techniques during the Assessment. For the OSC to pass the Assessment, the evidence adduced must pass the adequacy and sufficiency tests. Accredited C3PAOs can be found on the Cyber AB Marketplace. After completing the Assessment, the CMMC Quality Assurance Professional (CQAP) verifies that assessment documentation is complete and accurate before being uploaded to the CMMC eMASS. 

What are Pitfalls to Avoid When Implementing the CMMC 2.0 Compliance Checklist?

Scoping Too Broadly

Sometimes, security engineers tend to be overly cautious when defining the scope of infrastructure that falls under CMMC. In rare cases, they may mistakenly categorize data as CUI, even if it isn’t. However, most of the time, they are unaware of where their CUI is located and include more infrastructure than necessary. This can result in multiple repositories being included in the scope, along with associated infrastructure and network capabilities such as IAM services across many different systems. A broader scope will result in an expensive and complex path to CMMC compliance. 

Similarly, engineers sometimes target CMMC levels higher than required, striving for level 2 compliance where level 1 would suffice. Like broadly scoping infrastructure, trying to achieve compliance for unnecessary CMMC 2.0 levels multiplies resources, complexity, and cost. Even when Level 2 compliance is required, it may be less disruptive and more practical to start with Level 1 compliance before trying to achieve compliance at Level 2.

The other scoping is the failure to include supply chain participants and partners in your planning for CMMC 2.0 compliance. For instance, some unique specifications you may send to the suppliers may have CUI data. Thus, you should notify the partner that they should also comply with the CMMC requirements. At least, the employees should be trained to handle and mark CUI accordingly, and the information passed securely.

Considering CMMC 2.0 Implementation and Compliance a One-Time Event

CMMC 2.0 compliance is not a checklist exercise or a one-time event. It is a journey, not a destination, and profoundly affects processes, people, and technology. Your employees might need considerable training, may have to adjust their culture, and new procedures and processes or workflows may have to change. Although technology must support the new requirements, the deployments should never be considered static. Your business will change with time, changing your attack surface and risk profile. Security risks will always and continuously emerge, and your cybersecurity solutions must evolve too. Thus, you should regularly review and update your SSP to address those risks. For this reason, the DoD plans that CMMC 2.0 audits don’t regularly rather than just once. 

Wait Too Long

Many OSCs assume CMMC 2.0 compliance can be achieved within a short period, in a week or two. They assume this because they already have implemented some cybersecurity practices and policies. However, achieving and documenting compliance may take months or years, even for the most sophisticated entities. It is worth noting that CMMC compliance isn’t just an IT exercise. It requires more than just fixing the technology. You need a detailed plan to begin with, often resulting in a need for additional technology. Further, all the employees will require training, while new procedures and processes will be needed to replace the older ones.

Inadequate Continuous Monitoring

After struggling to achieve CMMC compliance, many organizations become complacent and relaxed. However, CMMC 2.0 compliance requires an ongoing/continuous review, monitoring, and improvement. Choosing architecture and tools that allow you to automate as much monitoring and maintenance as possible.

Lack of Detail

Organizations sometimes need to spend more time documenting the details on key areas of focus in the requirements when working through checklists. For instance, logging must be documented to show that logs were not only collected but also methods used in collecting, storing, reviewing, and analyzing them. Similarly, access controls are often omitted in comprehensive documentation because of their complexity, as they span multiple internal system boundaries. Documentation on Access Controls should include their functionality and the processes for their maintenance and validation. Furthermore, detailed documentation on procedures for both system administrators configuring and monitoring the system and users handling CUI is frequently overlooked by security engineers. Documenting these procedures to quickly detect deviations from standard processes before data is exposed to risk is crucial.

CMMC Compliance Requirements

The requirements to achieve CMMC compliance largely depend on the maturity level at which an organization wants certification. Therefore, OSCs should first determine which kind of data they hold and which CMMC 2.0 maturity level they need certification for.

What are CMMC 2.0 Level 1 Compliance Requirements?

CMMC 2.0 level 1 focuses on protecting Federal Contract Information (FCI). But what is FCI?

FCI refers to the information, not intended for public release, that is provided by or generated for the Government under a contract to develop or deliver a product or service to the Government but not including information provided by the Government to the public (such as on public websites) or simple transactional information, such as necessary to process payments.

To achieve compliance at this level, the OSC should meet the 17 basic safeguarding requirements for FCI specified in FAR 52.204-21. These controls are specified in 6 domains, including:

    • 4 controls  in the Access Control (AC) domain
    • 2 controls  in the Identification and Authentication (IA) domain
    • 1 controls  in the Media Protection (MP) domain
    • 4 controls  in the Physical Protection (PE) domain
    • 2 controls  in the System and Communications Protection (SC) domain
    • 4 controls  in the System and Information Integrity (SI) domain.

As mentioned, organizations seeking to bid for DoD contracts under CMMC 2.0 level 1 can perform self-assessments or hire a CCA working with a C3PAO. However, a third-party assessment for level one doesn’t result in a certification. It acts as evidence of compliance. 

Organizations must conduct annual self-assessments, accompanied by the Senior Company Official’s (SCO) affirmation that the organization meets the requirements. The SCO must assert that the OSC meets ALL the basic FCI safeguarding requirements specified under FAR Clause 52.204-21. This assertion should then be memorialized via an affirmation of compliance in the SPRS. However, compliance with this level might mean that practices span a particular enclave or throughout the entire enterprise network, depending on where the FCI will be or is processed, transmitted, or stored.

What are CMMC 2.0 Level 2 Compliance Requirements?

CMMC 2.0 level 2 deals with the protection of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). So, what is CUI

NARA defines CUI as the information that requires safeguarding or dissemination controls pursuant to and consistent with applicable law, regulations, and government-wide policies but is not classified under Executive Order 13526 or the Atomic Energy Act, as amended. However, 32 CFR 2002.4(h) gives a more complete definition.

Under the proposed rule, an organization can conduct a CMMC Level 2 Self-Assessment or have a C3PAO conduct a Certification Assessment.   

CMMC Level 2 Self-Assessment  

The OSA must conduct a self-assessment in line with the procedure set out in § 170.16(c)(1) of the proposed rule and achieve a MET result for all security requirements specified in § 170.14(c)(3). It should then submit assessment results in SPRS as an affirmation that it has met the Self-Assessment. To maintain compliance with CMMC Level 2 Self-Assessment requirements, the OSA must perform a CMMC Level 2 Self-Assessment on a triennial basis and submit the results in SPRS. However, such OSA can achieve a conditional self-assessment if the Level 2 self-assessment results in a POA&M meeting all the requirements. Only after implementing all security requirements and closing out of the POA&M will an OSA achieve CMMC Level 2 Final Self-Assessment compliance.  

CMMC Level 2 Certification Assessment  

To achieve CMMC Level 2 Certification Assessment requirements, the OSC must complete a select NIST SP 800-172 requirements, implement NIST SP 800-171 requirements, and some assigned ODPs. After implementing Level 2 requirements, such an organization must either achieve a Conditional or Final CMMC Level 2 certification after an assessment by an accredited C3PAO. The assessor submits the assessment results into the CMMC instantiation of the eMASS, which automatically transmits them into SPRS. The OSC must submit annual affirmations attesting to their compliance with CMMC Level 2 requirements. CMMC Level 2 Certification Assessments should be done triennially. Like in CMMC Level 2 Self-Assessment, an OSC can also get a Conditional Certification Assessment if a POA&M exists after completing the Certification Assessment. The OSC will be granted a Final Certification Assessment after closing out all the POA&Ms within 180 days.  

What are CMMC 2.0 Level 3 Requirements?

Organizations Seeking compliance at CMMC 2.0 level 3 will still need an independent triennial assessment by the Government, and is required for a small subset of DoD contractors handling high-risk and sensitive projects. DoD contractors that have been subject to a DIBCAC High are strong candidates for this level. Although the level 3 compliance requirements are still under development, companies seeking certification should implement ALL the level 1 and 2 requirements. This level demands the highest degree of security measures to safeguard highly sensitive systems and information. Level 3 compliance means the contractor can thwart any Advanced Persistent Threats while maintaining a robust cybersecurity practice.

Selecting the Right CMMC Compliance Consulting Partner

Choosing the right CMMC compliance consulting partner is crucial for a successful compliance journey. Consider these factors when making your decision:

  1. Experience and Expertise: Look for a partner with a proven track record in CMMC compliance and expertise in cybersecurity best practices.
  2. Certified Professionals: Ensure the consulting team includes Certified CMMC Professionals (CCP) and Certified CMMC Assessors (CCA) to guide you through the process.
  3. Industry Knowledge: Select a partner with experience in your specific industry, as they will understand the unique challenges and requirements you face.
  4. Customized Approach: A tailored approach to compliance ensures that your organization’s unique needs are addressed, resulting in a more efficient and effective process.
  5. Ongoing Support: Choose a partner who offers ongoing support and services, such as managed security services, to maintain compliance and address emerging threats.

Best Practices for a Smooth CMMC Compliance Process

Follow these best practices to ensure a smooth CMMC compliance process:

  1. Establish a Cross-Functional Team: Involve representatives from various departments, such as IT, legal, and HR, to address the diverse aspects of compliance.
  2. Invest in Employee Training: Educate employees on cybersecurity best practices and their role in maintaining compliance.
  3. Implement a Risk-Based Approach: Prioritize the most critical gaps identified during the gap analysis to allocate resources efficiently.
  4. Regularly Monitor and Review Policies: Continuously evaluate your cybersecurity policies and practices to ensure ongoing compliance and adapt to changing threats.
  5. Leverage Automation and Technology: Use tools and technologies to streamline the compliance process and enhance your overall cybersecurity posture.


Achieving CMMC compliance is critical for organizations working with the DoD and its supply chain. By partnering with a qualified CMMC compliance consulting partner, following best practices, and investing in the necessary resources, your organization can successfully navigate the compliance journey and secure its position in the competitive DoD contracting landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions About CMMC Compliance

The duration of the compliance process varies depending on the complexity of your organization and the target CMMC level. It may take several months to over a year for larger organizations.

Costs vary based on the organization’s size, target CMMC level, and the resources required to meet compliance requirements. Expenses may include consulting fees, technology investments, and employee training.

No, small businesses that handle CUI or FCI are required to comply with the appropriate CMMC level, just like larger organizations.

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