Agencies get hard deadlines to meet software policy

The Office of Management and Budget is bearing down on agencies to consolidate their software licenses. 

OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy issued final guidance Thursday on the administration’s software licensing policy, which, released in draft form last December, calls for agencies to consolidate and eliminate redundant software licenses. The guidance is in line with category management, a strategy to make the buying and managing of commoditized goods and services in the federal government more efficient and unified by grouping similar products into categories. 

The new guidance calls for agencies to take on “a more centralized and collaborative software management approach,” and when possible, buy licenses using governmentwide agreements, like the one recently negotiated with geospatial IT firm Esri. 

“It’s really kind of moving toward holding agencies accountable for their purchasing and management,” U.S. Chief Acquisition Office Anne Rung told FedScoop of the draft guidance in December 2015.


Rung, in a White House blog Thursday, wrote that the ESCT expects to see $1.5 million in savings from the Esri deal by the close of fiscal year 2016 and will look to negotiate two more governmentwide software agreements by the year’s end.

[Read more: White House will fix way government buys software.]

“We have a really fragmented and inefficient marketplace, particularly around software,” Rung said, and there’s countless Government Accountability Office documentation detailing the $9 billion in poor spending on software licenses among more than 50,000 transactions.

“We buy and manage in a very decentralized manner, we struggle to create accurate inventories — so we don’t know what we own — we often purchase unneeded capabilities, and we’re not sharing information across government like pricing terms,” she said.

The guidance officially creates an Enterprise Software Category Team, or ECST, which will be in charge of the governmentwide software acquisition category, and look to promote model software agreements and strike more governmentwide deals. Led by the General Services Administration, the Defense Department and OMB, the team will issue guidance within the next 120 days on the best software buying practices for agencies.


[Read more: GSA: New software deal could save agencies millions]

With the publication of the final guidance, OFPP has keyed in on some more rigid deadlines agencies must adhere to in the move — like that they are immediately forbidden from entering contracts that prohibit that sharing of prices, terms and conditions with other agencies.

In the next 45 days, agencies must appoint a software manager responsible for overseeing commercial software agreements and licenses. The policy clarifies that this does not apply to custom-developed software.

By Sept. 30, that software manager and the CIO must compile a baseline inventory of the agency’s software. The policy emphasizes that agencies should look to use software management technologies, like software asset management tools and continuous monitoring as a service, to automate the maintenance of this inventory. 

Starting Nov. 30, and every quarter going forward, agencies will have to report savings to OMB associated with improved software license management.  


These are all requirements set forth in the original draft guidance but with updated official deadlines agencies must adhere to. 

This policy is one of three OMB has issued in recent months — it also issued guidance on the buying of computer workstations and mobile technologies — leveraging category management to help the federal government rein in its spending on IT.

Contact the reporter on this story via email at or follow him on Twitter @BillyMitchell89. Subscribe to the Daily Scoop to get all the federal IT news you need in your inbox every morning at

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