Goals of CMMC 2.0

As with CMMC V1, protection of sensitive information and evaluating an organization's security measures is the primary focus of CMMC 2.0.

CMMC 2.0

  • Simplify CMMC and enhance clarity on cybersecurity regulatory, policy, and contracting requirements
  • Focus on third-party audit mandates and the most advanced cybersecurity measures of organizations that support essential programs in the aerospace and defense industries
  • Increase DoD oversight of professional and ethical criteria regarding third-party assessment


Reduction of Certification Levels

CMMC 2.0 reduces the framework from five certification levels to three. CMMC 2.0 eliminates Level 2 and Level 4 in alignment with previous DoD statements that Levels 2 and 4 were merely transition levels to their respective higher levels of maturity. The levels will be renamed to Level 1, Foundational (previously Level 1); Level 2, Advanced (previously Level 3); and Level 3, Expert (previously Level 5).

Self-Assessments and Government-Led Assessments

The most dramatic shift planned for CMMC 2.0 is removal of the requirement that all certification assessments be performed by third-party organizations, dubbed CMMC Third-Party Assessment Organizations (C3PAOs).

Under the updated framework, Level 1 certification and certain nonprioritized acquisitions assigned Level 2 will require only an annual self-assessment and accompanying contractor affirmation in the Supplier Performance Risk System (SPRS). Prioritized acquisitions assigned Level 2 will require the previously anticipated C3PAO assessments every three years. All certifications at Level 3 will require a government (rather than C3PAO) assessment every three years.

These updates demonstrate both a step back from the requirement that independent organizations conduct all assessments and a step toward the government being more involved in the CMMC assessment process. DoD announced that it will require both the CMMC Accreditation Body (CMMC AB), the entity previously charged with full implementation of the assessment process) and C3PAOs to achieve enhanced professional and ethical standards before completing assessments under the CMMC 2.0 framework.

Limited POAMs

Under certain circumstances, CMMC 2.0 will allow contractors to implement time-limited Plans of Action and Milestones (POAMs) in order to achieve full certification. DoD will specify an absolute number of cybersecurity requirements that must be achieved prior to contract award, as well as a small set of critical requirements that must always be achieved prior to award and which may not appear in a contractor’s POAM. The allowance for a POAM, even if limited, is a significant change from the prior model, which required that contractors achieve the applicable CMMC level certification to even be eligible to submit a proposal for any defense contracts.

Limited Waivers

Under certain limited circumstances for select mission critical acquisitions, CMMC 2.0 will allow contractors to obtain waivers of CMMC requirements. Waivers must be approved by DoD senior leadership and will be time-limited. Again, even with limitations, a CMMC waiver process is a large shift from the previous model, where certification was a “go/no-go” criterion for bidding on defense contracts.

Streamlined Practices

CMMC 2.0 draws only from the National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication (NIST SP) 800-171 and NIST SP 800-172 to create its cybersecurity standards. It no longer contains any cybersecurity practices drafted specifically for the CMMC framework or practices pulled from various domestic and international cybersecurity standards.

Removal of Maturity Processes

CMMC 1.0 proposed to evaluate both cybersecurity processes and cybersecurity practices. Practices evaluated technical activities required for certification, whereas processes evaluated the extent of institutionalization of those practices. CMMC 2.0 eliminates the concept of maturity processes and contains only the cybersecurity practices themselves.


DoD intends to implement CMMC 2.0 through notice-and-comment rulemaking to be codified in CFR Chapters 32 (National Defense) and 48 (DFARS). Until rulemaking for each of these chapters is complete, DoD is suspending its CMMC piloting efforts and will not include CMMC requirements in any contracts. The CMMC website states that the rulemaking process can take anywhere from nine to 24 months, meaning that the earliest DoD expects to implement CMMC requirements is August 2022. At the same time, DoD is considering providing incentives to contractors who achieve CMMC certification while rulemaking is underway.


As with previously released iterations of the CMMC framework, DoD is intending to provide the full model for Levels 1 and 2, as well as Assessment Guides for each level, in coming weeks on the CMMC website. Level 3 is still under development but will be posted when available. DoD has also provided an FAQ page to address initial questions regarding CMMC applicability, requirements, assessments, and implementation.

Additionally, DoD has developed Project Spectrum, a cybersecurity resource platform to assist contractors with assessing and enhancing their cybersecurity practices. Project Spectrum provides multiple resources, including blogs, white papers, courses, videos, and other information on various aspects of cybersecurity. Although DoD is suspending implementation of CMMC requirements until CMMC 2.0 is fully codified, DoD is encouraging contractors to continue assessing and updating their cyber capabilities.