Acquisition

White House hopes to trim $9B software spend

Tens of thousands of expensive and fragmented agency software purchases cost taxpayers $9 billion a year. Two top officials at the Office of Management and Budget say improved management can help save money, and they aim to staunch the flow of money with new plans to consolidate and streamline the way the government buys software.

In a Dec. 21 blog post, Federal CIO Tony Scott and Chief Acquisition Officer Anne Rung announced a proposal that "doubles down" on acquisition consolidation at federal agencies and builds on new requirements in the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act. The proposed guidance is open for public comment through Jan. 20, 2016.

The directive calls on agencies to centrally manage software buys to reduce underutilization and maximize the use of best-in-class solutions. It would also establish a multi-agency team to develop new enterprisewide software agreements.Furthermore, it would direct agency CIOs, in conjunction with chief acquisition officers, to appoint a software manager who reports to the CIO on all agency software contracts and licenses. In addition, agencies would be required to maintain comprehensive annual inventories of software licenses and subscription spending.

Agencies would have to submit a software management plan to OMB by May 31, 2016, and an inventory of software licenses and cloud agreements in August 2016. Agencies are also being asked to use their Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation tools -- a suite of cybersecurity monitoring applications available via a Department of Homeland Security contract -- to track software inventory and use by the end of September.

The software policy directive is the second in a series of category management policies from OMB aimed at driving better performance, efficiencies and savings in commonly purchased IT goods and services.

In October, Scott and Rung cracked down on uncoordinated, localized practices for buying laptop and desktop PCs. OMB prohibited agencies from issuing new solicitations for common laptops and desktops and directed civilian agencies to transition their spending on those devices to three existing best-value governmentwide acquisition vehicles.

Next up from Scott and Rung will be a directive for mobile solutions.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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