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Reauthorization actions occur at the discretion of the authorizing official in accordance with federal or organizational policy.156 If a reauthorization action is required, organizations maximize the use of security and privacy risk information produced as part of the continuous monitoring processes currently in effect. Reauthorization actions, if initiated, can be either time-driven or event-driven. Time-driven reauthorizations occur when the authorization termination date is reached (if one is specified). If the system is under ongoing authorization,157 a time-driven reauthorization may not be necessary. However, if the continuous monitoring program is not sufficiently comprehensive to fully support ongoing authorization, a maximum authorization period can be specified by the authorizing official. Authorization termination dates are guided and informed by federal and organizational policies and by the requirements of authorizing officials.

Under ongoing authorization, a reauthorization may be necessary if an event occurs that produces risk above the acceptable organizational risk tolerance. A reauthorization may be warranted, for example, if there is a breach/incident or failure of or significant problems with the continuous monitoring program. Reauthorization actions may necessitate a review of and changes to the continuous monitoring strategy which may in turn, affect ongoing authorization.

For security and privacy assessments associated with reauthorization, organizations leverage security and privacy information generated by the continuous monitoring program and fill in gaps with manual assessments. Organizations may supplement automatically-generated assessment information with manually-generated information in situations where an increased level of assurance is needed. If the security control assessments are conducted by qualified assessors with the necessary independence, use appropriate security standards and guidelines, and are based on the needs of the authorizing official, the assessment results can be applied to the reauthorization.158

The senior agency official for privacy is responsible for assessing privacy controls and those assessment results can be cumulatively applied to the reauthorization. Independent assessors may assess privacy controls at the discretion of the organization. The senior agency official for privacy reviews and approves the authorization packages for information systems that process PII prior to the authorizing official making a reauthorization decision. The reauthorization action may be as simple as updating the security and privacy plans, security and privacy assessment reports, and plans of action and milestones—focused only on specific problems or ongoing issues, or as comprehensive as the initial authorization.

The authorizing official signs an updated authorization decision document based on the current risk determination and acceptance of risk to organizational operations and assets, individuals, other organizations, and the Nation. In all situations where there is a decision to reauthorize a system or the common controls inherited by organizational systems, the maximum reuse of authorization information is encouraged to minimize the time and expense associated with the reauthorization effort (subject to organizational reuse policy).

156 Decisions to initiate a formal reauthorization include inputs from the senior agency information security officer, senior agency official for privacy, and senior accountable official for risk management/risk executive (function).

157 An ongoing authorization approach requires that a continuous monitoring program is in place to monitor all implemented security controls with a frequency specified in the continuous monitoring strategy.

158 [SP 800-53A] describes the specific conditions when security information can be reused to support authorization actions.