Air Force mulls Microsoft license

Using the Army as a model, Air Force officials said they are considering consolidating the service's buying power for Microsoft Corp. software.

The new Air Force Information Technology Commodity Council is "discussing internally doing an Air Force-wide license with Microsoft," said a council official, who requested anonymity. The service is looking at the Army's Microsoft deal, the official said.

The Army announced May 30 a $78 million delivery order worth up to $471 million to Softmart Inc. for a servicewide Microsoft license through 2009.

The commodity council is in the early planning stages of obtaining servicewide Microsoft licenses, the council official said, and it will finalize a strategy in six months.

Air Force chief information officer John Gilligan confirmed the service's intentions. "We're going to buy as one Air Force, which is the big difference," he said in an interview at his Pentagon office.

The Air Force typically issues IT contract vehicles, and its agencies buy from them, Gilligan said. The service's nine major commands, such as Air Combat Command and Air Force Materiel Command, have their own Microsoft licenses, and they work fairly well, he said.

But an enterprise consolidation contract will simplify management of Microsoft products and services and achieve one hardware and software configuration, Gilligan said.

Enterprise consolidation contracts are becoming common practice as government officials negotiate more favorable prices and terms when buying standard data and software programs, said Dan Heinemeier, president of the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association, an Arlington, Va., industry group, in a Sept. 15 statement.

"We have seen this in agency requests to acquire site licenses to use engineering standards in electronic versions on an agencywide basis," Heinemeier said. "This is just the logical extension of that kind of thinking."

Army IT officials met recently with leaders and users to explain the service's new Microsoft licensing agreement, they said in statements.

The Army Enterprise Infostructure-Enterprise Software Consolidation contract centrally funds the purchase of 426,000 Microsoft licenses this year with plans to centrally fund for the next five. The quantity increases to 494,000 after the third year, said Dee Wardle, Army Small Computer Program product leader.

The $78 million delivery order includes five one-year options that could increase the contract's value to $471 million, she said.

The Army will distribute the software to local directorates of information management, Wardle said. The directorates then will provide the software to approved users, she said.

"The people out in the field basically want to verify that they understand the ordering process," Wardle said, "and that they aren't really directly funding these buys, which nobody can believe."

The agreement covers the Army Reserves, the National Guard and active Army — soldiers, civilians and contractors — in three software categories: desktop, business and enterprise. It does not apply to joint organizations such as Central Command and educational institutions such as West Point.

The Army chose Softmart on a best-value basis, said Robin Baldwin, contracting officer at the Army's IT, E-Commerce and Commercial Contracting Center. The small business is one of nine Microsoft resellers approved under the Defense Department's Enterprise Software Initiative, a project that identifies, acquires, distributes and manages software that is used across DOD.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group