OMB creates SmartBuy initiative

"Reducing Cost and Improving Quality in Federal Purchases of Commercial Software"

The Office of Management and Budget on June 2 announced the formal creation of the SmartBuy governmentwide enterprise licensing initiative, which is intended to lower the cost of software for individual agencies by purchasing common applications in the biggest bulk possible.

The initiative, led by the General Services Administration, will focus on a wide range of software types, including network management, antivirus, database, open source and office automation software such as e-mail.

In a memo to agencies, OMB Director Mitchell Daniels Jr. set out three requirements for agencies as part of their mandatory participation in the SmartBuy initiative. They must:

* Provide information on their existing agreements, prices, unique terms and conditions, and future needs for common software.

* Develop a migration strategy and address any contractual barriers that prevent moving to the governmentwide licenses "as quickly as practicable."

* Follow the leadership of the SmartBuy team, integrating common desktop and server software licenses into the governmentwide initiative by not renewing or entering into new agreements without first consulting with the team and being reviewed by OMB.

OMB will be keeping a close watch on competition and small business opportunities in the enterprise license contracts, but the Bush administration expects that this initiative could save the government more than $100 million in software costs each year, Daniels wrote.

By June 6, agencies also must provide OMB with a point of contact for this initiative.

This is one of several new e-government initiatives outlined in the White House's fiscal 2004 budget and the updated 2003 E-Government Strategy. Mark Forman, administrator of the new OMB Office of E-Government and Information Technology, has been paving the way for this effort for months.

The Defense Department adopted the enterprise licensing strategy in 1998 and has found it to be successful, but some vendors who are not familiar with the approach have expressed concern about the new initiative.

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