OMB unveils category management policy for mobile

Shutterstock image: businessman using a smart phone.

In a continuing effort to improve federal IT commodity management practices, the Office of Management and Budget released a directive on Aug. 4 that gives agencies guidelines for buying mobile devices and services.

The policy memo, from U.S. Chief Acquisition Officer Anne Rung and U.S. CIO Tony Scott, follows policy releases on computer workstations in late 2015 and software licensing in June.

In a joint blog post, Rung and Scott said the latest policy, like the other two, will help drive greater efficiencies in the federal government's $1 billion yearly spending on mobile devices and services.

Those kinds of consolidation and category management efforts have saved the government more than $2.1 billion since 2009, according to Scott and Rung. The federal government has seen prices drop by 50 percent on personal computers since the category management policy went into effect, they wrote.

The new policy directs agencies to report data on mobile service usage and pricing to a centrally managed system on a quarterly basis to help eliminate unnecessary inventory and services. It also orders them to use a governmentwide or agencywide solution, if appropriate, and modify how they manage demand to take advantage of plan pricing and device refreshes.

OMB will post the usage and pricing data to the General Services Administration's Acquisition Gateway to help other agencies with their plans. At a minimum, agencies must identify the purchased services, including quantity of minutes, data and number of text messages, the directive states.

The policy mirrors GSA's effort to reduce the 1,200 mobile agreements and 200 service plans that federal agencies currently juggle among just four wireless carriers. As part of that effort, GSA launched its Wireless Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative blanket purchase agreements in 2013.

The new OMB policy directs agencies to GSA's wireless plans and requires agencies to consolidate all their minute and data requirements into one contract per carrier using a governmentwide acquisition strategy by the end of September 2018. Agencies may renegotiate contracts if the governmentwide solutions do not meet their needs, but they must justify their proposed alternatives to OMB.

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, 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 or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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