SmartBuy may get FAR blessing

A proposed change to the Federal Acquisition Regulation would make the General Services Administration's SmartBuy enterprise software licensing program "mandatory consideration," said Tom Kireilis, SmartBuy's senior program manager.

That means that agencies would have to consider any relevant SmartBuy agreements when making software purchases, he said. The SmartBuy license would become part of the agency's procurement strategy.

Once agency officials have considered the available SmartBuy license, "you can go on with your procurement process, but you already know what the SmartBuy price is," he said.

The proposed change will be out for comment soon, he said, but he did not specify the date.

The proposal is part of an ongoing GSA effort to make the program more compelling both to agencies and to vendors considering getting involved. Kireilis said GSA uses any number of tactics to persuade reluctant vendors of desired software products to sign SmartBuy agreements.

"Perhaps we can't bring them in unless we bring their competitors in," he said. "We play [software] publishers off one another."

When the software publisher doesn't feel such competitive pressure, the government could still choose not to buy the company's products if the vendor won't negotiate a better deal, he said.

SmartBuy's goal is to negotiate governmentwide licenses that any agency can use. The agency is currently negotiating deals with five antivirus software makers -- Symantec, McAffee, TrendMicro, Computer Associates and Sophos -- that may lead to those kinds of licenses, he said.

However, he cautioned that the point is not to bleed vendors to the breaking point. "I want them to be successful," he said "If they're not successful, why would they want to" be involved?

GSA's SmartBuy office is also putting together a working group of agencies to provide advice and guidance. Kireilis said he most wants to involve the Transportation, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce and Treasury departments, which have been among the most vocal agencies in shaping the program so far.

The working group would aid GSA in understanding the software licensing trends and priorities within agencies, and most importantly, identifying those trends and priorities just as they begin to emerge.

Kireilis led a SmartBuy session at GSA's Network Services conference in Chicago.

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