Congress

House to vote on bill to trim federal software spend

Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

A bill to put the brakes on runaway software spending is expected to pass the House of Representatives on June 7. The measure would put a statutory backstop on administration efforts to make software spending more coordinated and efficient.

The Megabyte Act (short for Making Electronic Government Accountable By Yielding Tangible Efficiencies Act) tasks  the Office of Management and Budget and agency CIOs to keep inventories of software licenses, and to come up with money-saving ideas for software acquisition. Cost savings and cost avoidance on software would be released in public reports.

The bill tracks with a wider administration effort to save money on software. In December 2015, the White House announced plans to centrally manage software licensing to avoid duplication and fragmentation. Federal CIO Tony Scott and Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Anne Rung released guidance on June 3 requiring agencies to name managers to focus on software acquisition, and lead efforts to produce software inventories and to identify redundancies and duplications.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), has a roster of bipartisan cosponsors on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. One of the driving factors behind the measure is a 2014 report by the Government Accountability Office which showed that federal government agencies added thousands of software license agreements each year -- significant numbers of which were duplicates or simply were never used.

A congressional aide told FCW he is confident on final passage on the bill. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed a nearly identical bill sponsored by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.)

Correction: Sen. Gary Peters was misidentified in an earlier version of this article.

 

About the Author

Aisha Chowdhry is a former staff writer for FCW.


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