Congress

Will the MEGABYTE Act save money?

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

A recently signed law promises to save the government at least $2 billion a year on software. Even with the coming change of administration, lawmakers and industry experts are hopeful the measure will live up to its billing.

The Making Electronic Government Accountable By Yielding Tangible Efficiencies (MEGABYTE) Act, which became law on July 29, requires the Office of Management and Budget to direct agencies to establish software licensing policies with the goal of improving efficiency and using automated tools to maintain inventories of those licenses. It also gives agency CIOs more authority over the process.

The bill was backed by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) in the Senate and Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) in the House.

"In an era where everybody likes to pile on the government, this is one shining example where government is not only working but working effectively," said Jim Ryan, CEO of Flexera Software.

Smart asset management can help an organization save roughly 30 percent of its annual spending on software, according to Ryan. But he said having a software asset manager, who has a plan for how to manage the licenses, is essential. Agencies that already have such a person in place "are off to a better start."

"I'm not quite sure how the bureaucracy is going to respond, but reasonably, if someone buys software [and] has the license associated with the software, someone would keep inventory," Cassidy told FCW.

Unlike previous efforts, he said the law requires agencies to better manage their software spending, and the biggest challenge will be getting agencies to change their standard practices.

Cassidy said agencies need to adopt stricter accounting practices when it comes to software license inventories. "I would hope that [the Office of Personnel Management] has now taken care of all of the issues that allowed them to be hacked," he added. "Hopefully they will also take care of a lot of the issues that allow millions of dollars to be wasted in unused software licenses."

Ryan said there is a direct link between software management and security, and an accurate inventory is necessary to complete basic security tasks such as patch management and access configuration. He added that a governmentwide emphasis on cybersecurity will propel agencies to do the right thing where software licensing is concerned.

"If you don't know what software is out there and you don't know what is being used, it's impossible to figure out how to save money," Ryan said. On top of that, the urgent need to mitigate software vulnerabilities makes "this a pressure-packed environment in a healthy way."

About the Author

Aisha Chowdhry is a former staff writer for FCW.


Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.