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Software Supply Chain Security Guidance: Introduction

Executive Order (EO) 14028 on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity, May 12, 2021, directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to publish guidance on practices for software supply chain security. Section 4e begins with the following text, which is followed by ten numbered items omitted here for brevity.

(Section 4e) Within 90 days of publication of the preliminary guidelines pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, the Secretary of Commerce acting through the Director of NIST, in consultation with the heads of such agencies as the Director of NIST deems appropriate, shall issue guidance identifying practices that enhance the security of the software supply chain. Such guidance may incorporate the guidelines published pursuant to subsections (c) and (i) of this section.

The EO also directs the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to require agencies to comply with the published guidance.

(Section 4k) Within 30 days of issuance of the guidance described in subsection (e) of this section, the Director of OMB acting through the Administrator of the Office of Electronic Government within OMB shall take appropriate steps to require that agencies comply with such guidelines with respect to software procured after the date of this order.

To gather input on possible practices for the guidance, NIST solicited position papers from the community, hosted a virtual workshop in June and a second virtual workshop in November, consulted with other federal agencies, and reviewed existing federal guidance.

This document starts by explaining NIST’s approach for addressing Section 4e. Next, it defines guidelines for federal agency staff who have software procurement-related responsibilities (e.g., acquisition and procurement officials, technology professionals). These guidelines are intended to help federal agency staff know what information to request from software producers regarding their secure software development practices. This document concludes with Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) offering additional information.

Created February 1, 2022, Updated February 4, 2022