Acquisition

OMB gives mobile the category management treatment

smartphones

A new Office of Management and Budget draft policy tells agencies how to get better bang for their buck in buying and managing mobile services and products, part of an ongoing OMB effort to save the government money in IT acquisition.

The draft policy, the third in a set of category management directives, directs agencies to report all mobile service use and pricing data to a central system; cut out unneeded inventory and service; and use government- or agency-wide solutions when appropriate.

"Too often, agencies buy excessive levels of service, such as unlimited data and minute plans, when a lesser amount of data or number of minutes pooled across many thousands of users" would do just fine, the document states.

The Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, which became law in December 2014, is a mandate for improving mobile device and service contracts, the draft policy says.

"FITARA significantly increases the power of covered agency CIOs to consolidate mobile services across their enterprise and develop appropriate strategies to meet agency needs in a cost effective manner," according to the document.

Under the draft policy, agencies have until May 31 to report mobile service usage and pricing data to OMB. That data will wind up on the Acquisition Gateway site hosted by the General Services Administration.

The draft policy instructs agencies to "better leverage the government's vast buying power," federal CIO Tony Scott and Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Anne Rung wrote in a blog post.

The federal government spends about $1 billion annually on mobile devices and service contracts via more than 1,200 separate agreements, according to Scott and Rung. But category management efforts in other areas have saved the government nearly $2 billion since 2009, they said, and there are significant savings to be had on mobile as well.

The draft policy is open for public comment, via the collaboration network GitHub, until April 28.

Scott and Rung have both expressed hope that their work on category management will outlive their time in the White House. "We're seeing and feeling the shift around category management," Rung said last week.

OMB last month tapped 10 officials to oversee the government's largest procurement areas as part of a category management acquisition plan.

The other two OMB category management directives are in software and personal computers

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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