GSA pursues Oracle SmartBuy

General Services Administration officials plan to execute a SmartBuy licensing deal with Oracle for the company's database software, according to a notice posted late last week on FedBizOpps.

The license will be for only one agency, which officials declined to identify. According to the announcement, the agreement will end the first phase of a planned three-phase approach to making the Oracle software available governmentwide.

Oracle recently acquired PeopleSoft, expanding both its range of offerings and its user base among government agencies.

"Oracle is exactly the kind of vendor that government should approach to get governmentwide licenses," said Steve Kelman, a professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a columnist for Federal Computer Week. However, he said, how significant it is will depend on the final shape that a governmentwide license takes.

Success with such a big name, he added, could bolster the program, which has moved along in fits and starts since officials launched it two years ago.

"It's tough sledding, for pretty straightforward reasons," he said. Government officials are trying to strengthen their buying power with vendors, and vendors would prefer that not to happen."

The goal of the SmartBuy program is to sign licensing deals for software at favorable terms for government buyers, counting on the volume buying power of the government to persuade vendors to agree to special terms. The program is partly modeled after the Defense Department's Enterprise Software Licensing Initiative.

Other SmartBuy contract holders include ESRI, Manugistics and Novell.

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