What Constitutes the NIST Privacy Framework’s Elements?

If your business is even remotely connected with DoD or deals with controlled unclassified data, you must be aware that DoD contractors are required to be cybersecurity compliant. Compliance requirements like DFARS, CMMC, and NIST are some of the basic cybersecurity norms.

Other technology- and security-focused NIST guidelines will be familiar with the framework of the NIST Privacy Framework. It is expressed in a common language to manage privacy-related risk and can be customized to any organization’s role in the data handling ecosystem. This allows regulatory, business, and technology approaches to be aligned.

The main elements of the NIST Privacy Framework are outlined below:


The prescribed activities and results about managing privacy risk make up the Core of the NIST Privacy Framework. Functions, Categories, and Subcategories are Core components that collaborate to support this conversation.

Functions The NIST Privacy Framework’s functions help an organization identify, comprehend, and manage its data processing to more accurately identify the associated privacy risk and decide how to best manage it. At the highest level, functions organize the fundamental privacy-related actions. 

The five functions are, Identify, Govern, Control, Communicate, and Protect. 


According to the framework, categories are “subdivided into groupings of privacy outcomes strongly related to programmatic objectives and specific actions.”


Subcategories further segment Categories according to the objectives of managerial and technical actions. Supporting the achievement of the results specified within each Category is the aim of Subcategories.

Catalog and charting: The company keeps track of all the resources it uses to support data processing operations.

Knowledge and Instruction: Annual privacy awareness program is a requirement for all employees and contractors, and the Privacy Officer keeps track of who has completed it.

Policies, procedures, and practices for data processing: The rights of data subjects are governed by a data processing policy, which has been established and is yearly evaluated by the

Data Processing Consciousness: The Privacy Officer is responsible for managing risk related to the company’s data processing operations. To make sure privacy duties are recognized and upheld, the Privacy Officer meets with each functional group in the company once a quarter.

Data Security: The environment for processing data is continuously scanned for vulnerabilities. The Security team reviews the scan results monthly, and remediation is carried out per the risk posed by each found vulnerability.


An organization or DoD companies can choose particular Functions, Categories, and Subcategories from the Core using the NIST Privacy Framework’s notion of Profiles to manage privacy risk. In doing so, the organization is able to compare the existing state of a specific set of privacy activities—Profile 1—and the desired state—Profile 2—for that group of activities. Comparing an organization’s present state to an end state aim that involves compliance with a particular compliance rule can be very helpful in identifying gaps. The gap analysis findings enable Privacy and Risk practitioners to inform management partners of the consequent compliance risk and set standards for how compliant the company is at the moment. 

Implementation Tiers

For management to assess their current risk posture and the maturity of the organization’s processes and controls with regard to privacy, the NIST Privacy Framework has four separate Tiers established. The following defines the tiers:

  • Tier 1: Partial
  • Tier 2: Knowledge of Risk
  • Tier 3: Recurring
  • Tier 4: Flexible

The management may better understand the steps necessary to reach the target state if they can evaluate the organization’s current posture. To meet the organization’s regulatory compliance obligations, this aids privacy and risk professionals in securing resources and prioritizing privacy-related projects.

What Constitutes the NIST Privacy Framework’s Elements?
Scroll to top