IT Standards Library

IT Standards Library

Welcome to the Federal Student Aid Chief Information Officer's Information Technology (IT) Standards Library. Federal Student Aid and its contractors must comply with IT standards and guidelines applicable to all federal agencies. They must also comply with the policies and procedures specific to the U.S. Department of Education and Federal Student Aid.

The IT Standards Library offers pertinent references for those who do or would like to do business with Federal Student Aid. Documents selected for the library, however, may not encompass all of the documentation or references necessary to perform work for Federal Student Aid. The library includes material in three broad categories:

U.S. Department of Education Specific Resources

This section of the IT Standards Library includes documents pertinent to the U.S. Department of Education as a whole.

Resources

Security Requirements for Contractors Doing Business with the Department of Education

The Department uses its Administrative Communications System to issue policies and procedures applicable to Department employees and contractors. Handbooks and departmental directives identify security policies and procedures contractors doing business with the Department must comply with.

Department of Education's OMB Budget Exhibit 300

Redacted versions of business cases (Exhibit 300) for the Department's major IT initiatives, as required by OMB Circular A-11 – Preparation, Submission and Execution of the Budget. This list includes the Exhibit 300s for Federal Student Aid.

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Federal Student Aid Specific Resources

This section of the IT Standards Library includes documents that are specific to the Federal Student Aid IT lifecycle for all projects and lists other pertinent references that an IT project may be required to comply with dependent on the contract.

General References

Lifecycle Management Methodology

The Lifecycle Management Methodology comprises a comprehensive process for managing information technology projects from vision to retirement. The methodology is composed of seven distinct stages, each of which guides project managers through the LMM process by identifying a core/minimum set of deliverables to be created in order to ensure a project's viability. This methodology promotes an incremental and iterative approach that fosters the development of complex solutions by breaking them down into small, manageable phases. The intent of implementing and following the LMM is to maximize project outcomes and minimize the risks traditionally associated with IT solution development projects.

Technology Standards and Products Guide

The Federal Student Aid Technology Standards and Products Guide (Guide) provides an organized, systematic way of classifying Federal Student Aid's information technology infrastructure and provides a basis for understanding the basic principles, assumptions, and rules governing the development of Federal Student Aid information technology policies.

Enterprise Operational Change Management Plan

The Enterprise Operational Change Management Plan defines Federal Student Aid's operational change management concepts related to enterprise events, configuration and release management.

Enterprise Rational Solution

The Federal Student Aid Enterprise Rational Solution is used for systems development efforts. It is an integrated solution for requirements, test, and configuration management built upon the IBM Rational tool suite that complies with FSA standards for these areas.

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Requirements / Development Services

Technical Architecture Support Service

Federal Student Aid Technical Architecture Support Services (TASS) maintains a collection of technical architecture models covering the various solution domains (e.g., Portal Architecture, Application Architecture) as well a collection of standards and guidance documents that define Federal Student Aid's standards for Requirements and Design artifacts. The TASS documentation zip file contains this collection of models, standards and guidance documents.

The TASS documentation zip file has been created to guide solution vendors in proposing and creating solutions that are aligned with Federal Student Aid's technical infrastructure and architectural vision. These standards should be referenced when preparing requirements and design artifacts as part of a development effort. Federal Student Aid's technical quality reviews use these standards as the basis for evaluating a solution's compliance to the enterprise standards at predefined lifecycle checkpoints.

Note: Contractors may obtain a copy of the Security Architecture Model component of the TASS Documentation by contacting their Contracting Officer post award.

  • Technical Architecture Support Service Documentation - Coming Soon

Enterprise Data Management Resources

These following resources provide context and history for Enterprise Data Management at Federal Student Aid on current and planned data management initiatives.

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Testing Services

Enterprise Testing Standards Handbook

Provides standards and guidance to Federal Student Aid employees and contractors regarding effective test planning, repeatable test processes, standardized templates, defect management and other tools that will help make test efforts better planned, executed and monitored.

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Application Operations and Maintenance Support

Virtual Data Center Concept of Operations

The VDC Concept of Operations provides a description of the strategies for implementing changes in the data center operations and services for Federal Student Aid. These strategies are based on an IT industry approach to developing solutions based on people, processes, tools, and technologies. CIO is implementing a resource plan to obtain the skills and resources to support future operations of the data center.

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Program Quality Assurance / Independent Verification and Validation

Independent Verification and Validation Handbook

This document outlines in detail, Federal Student Aid's IV and V practices from the Life Cycle Management, to the "best practices" adopted by the organization in Independent Verification and Validation. The document includes an introduction to metrics collection and reporting methodologies.

Post Implementation Review (PIR) Process Description

Guidelines and common procedures that define the objectives, activities, and documentation required to perform a Post Implementation Review (PIR) on a project.

  • Post Implementation Review (PIR) Process Description - Coming Soon

Production Readiness Review (PRR) Process

The Production Readiness Review (PRR) serves as the final, formal, and documented decision point before a new application or a significant release of an existing application enters Federal Student Aid's production environment and is exposed to end-users.

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General and Federal Guidelines

This section of the IT Standards Library highlights federal organizations involved in establishing and coordinating the implementation of federal laws, regulations, standards and guidelines applicable to information and information technology management. The standards and guidelines they promulgate apply to all federal agencies and departments. Entities seeking to do business with Federal Student Aid must be cognizant of and apply them.

Resources

Office of Management and Budget Resources

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) predominant mission is to assist the President in overseeing the preparation of the federal budget and to supervise its administration in Executive Branch agencies.

OMB oversees and coordinates the Administration's procurement, financial management, information, and regulatory policies, and issues associated instructions to federal agencies.

The OMB Web site offers a significant number of resources regarding information technology in the Executive Branch.

National Institute of Standards and Technology Resources

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. NIST's mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. The NIST website offers many valuable resources.

NIST's work in the area of information security is of particular interest and relevance to the work of Federal Student Aid. The Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA) charged NIST with developing and issuing standards, guidelines, and other publications to assist federal agencies in implementing the FISMA and in managing cost-effective programs to protect their information and information systems. NIST's Computer Security Resource Center offers extensive resources on this subject matter.

U.S. General Services Administration Office of Government-wide Policy

The U.S. General Services Administration's (GSA) government-wide policymaking authority covers the areas of personal and real property, travel and transportation, information technology, regulatory information and use of federal advisory committees, and is carried out by GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy (OGP).

OGP provides leadership in the development of a policy environment and key enablers for electronic government, and supports OMB in the implementation of various E-Gov initiatives to standardize and streamline government processes.

Among other initiatives, OGP sponsors http://www.section508.gov, a website devoted to disseminating information regarding Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. Section 508 of the Act requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.