Congress

New bill would enshrine OMB's software licensing policy in law

capitol dome and bills

A new bill in the Senate would solidify moves made by the Obama administration to centralize software licensing and eliminate duplicate spending.

The bipartisan Making Electronic Government Accountable By Yielding Tangible Efficiencies Act of 2015, dubbed the MEGABYTE Act, is backed by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.). The bill would require the Office of Management and Budget to direct agencies to establish software licensing policies with the goals of improving efficiency and use automated tools to maintain inventories of those licenses.

The government spends about $9 billion a year on software licenses. An OMB directive issued in December 2015 asked agencies to do a better job of managing those costs. In a blog post released along with the new policy, U.S. CIO Tony Scott and Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Anne Rung stressed that better management can help save money.

The proposed legislation would essentially put the policy on a more permanent legal footing.

Inefficient software licensing is not a new problem for government. In a May 2014 report, the Government Accountability Office found that despite the promise of big savings, few agencies were making the effort to coordinate and centralize their software license portfolios.

Under the MEGABYTE Act, every executive agency would have to send a report to OMB to document savings in the area of software licensing achieved through improved management.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is expected to vote on the bill during a Feb. 10 business meeting. The next step would be its consideration by the full Senate.

About the Author

Aisha Chowdhry is a former staff writer for FCW.


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