A set of spending hawks and tech trade groups are urging congressional action on the Strengthening Agency Management and Oversight of Software Assets Act to help improve visibility into the federal government's software spend.
Two sets of advocacy groups are pressing the leadership in the House and the Senate to prioritize passage of software licensing transparency legislation in the current session of Congress.
The legislation, called the Strengthening Agency Management and Oversight of Software Assets Act, would require federal agencies to report in more detail on their software assets, spending and utilization rates and share their findings with agency inspectors general. It is a follow-on to the bipartisan 2016 Megabyte Act, which required agencies to maintain accurate software inventories with an eye to reducing costs and eliminating redundancies.
The bipartisan legislation was reported favorably by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, where it was sponsored by committee chairman Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.)
A companion version was introduced in the House by Reps. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) in November.
"As federal agencies adopt varying approaches to modernize and manage their IT, it is important to have a comprehensive view of all of their software assets and discretion to both consolidate large enterprise licenses to attain cost savings as well as continue to purchase specialized software licenses for differentiated capabilities," the tech groups, which included the Alliance for Digital Innovation and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, said in their letter.
Michael Garland, an attorney specializing in government procurement, told FCW that the legislation could help reduce redundancies and increase competition in the federal government's software spending – estimated at $10 billion to $15 billion annually.
"The way IT is procured in government is incredibly fragmented," Garland said. "Budgets are put together at the mission level and each organization is very narrowly focused on what they are trying to do. Multiply that by thousands of organizations buying technology to suit their own needs and you can see why vendors have the upper hand."
Congress is facing a busy lame duck session, with eight days remaining on the current continuing resolution funding the federal government. Floor time in the House and Senate will be hard to come by for standalone legislation. However, one Capitol Hill source told FCW that the legislation could wind up as an element in an omnibus spending bill.