OMB looks to save $230M in new governmentwide mobile policy

The Office of Management and Budget wants to get a better idea of how agencies buy mobile devices and services, and reduce duplicative and unnecessary contracts governmentwide.

The Office of Management and Budget wants to get a better idea of how agencies buy mobile devices and services, and reduce duplicative and unnecessary contracts governmentwide.

In a draft policy guidance memo published Tuesday — the latest in a series of efforts to improve IT acquisition through a strategy called category management — U.S. Chief Acquisition Officer Anne Rung and U.S. CIO Tony Scott look to rein in and better manage the $1 billion the federal government spends on mobile devices and services annually. 

Category management, an acquisition philosophy that seeks to improve efficiency and ensure unity of effort by grouping similar commoditized goods and services into categories, could save $230 million by simplifying the federal mobile marketplace, the two officials write. 

The problem, they point out, is that there are currently nearly 1,200 contracts and more than 200 service plans for voice, data and text  governmentwide, but almost all of them tie back to the same four carriers.  


“[A]gencies continue to buy more services than needed, often fail to share minutes and data or optimize their calling plans, and struggle to manage their inventories across numerous agreements,” the guidance states. “The Government must do more to reduce the high level of fragmentation and duplication of mobile contracts and simplify the Federal marketplace for these services.”

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

Under the new policy, OMB will require agencies to report their mobile usage, and reduce unnecessary inventory within 90 days; transition from individual service contracts to governmentwide solutions; and improve demand management practices by considering older and readily available devices that meet functional requirements to cut down on costs.

The goal is to transition agencies to governmentwide mobile contracts that build on feds’ collective buying power. Immediately, agencies will be forbidden from striking new contracts or extensions with mobile providers and instead look to the General Services Administration’s Wireless Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative blanket purchase agreement to consolidate their mobile contracts. And by the end of fiscal year 2018, agency CIOs must consolidate minute and data usage to a single contract per provider. CIOs must have their transition plans in place by Aug. 31, 2016, according to the guidance.

GSA will serve as a broker of sorts for agencies. “Under this model, all agencies would receive the benefit of cost savings as additional agencies use the existing agreement,” the policy says.


By May 31, agencies must report their mobile usage and pricing data, which will later be posted by OMB to the Acquisition Gateway, the administration’s online repository and portal for federal personnel to explore existing acquisition information and solutions, collaborate on best practices, and make more effective and efficient buying decisions in a centralized manner around category management. 

[Read more: OMB to feds: No new desktop or laptop contracts.] 

Without such an ad-hoc plan, the guidance states, “agencies have a limited ability to monitor device usage and determine if devices should be canceled or moved to a more cost-effective service plan. Further, without a reliable inventory of mobile service contracts, agencies are less likely to identify opportunities for consolidation, and thus are less likely to achieve cost savings.” 

Also by the end of May, agencies must terminate unused mobile devices and services, and continue to do so on a quarterly basis based on updated reports.

This policy, with the other category management directives released in recent months on software and desktop hardware, “will help drive greater efficiencies in the $10 billion spent each year on PCs, software licenses, and mobile devices,” Rung and Scott wrote. Prices for PCs have dropped by about 50 percent and since December agencies have generated more than $4 million in annual savings on software purchases.  


“We are making significant progress. And category management is working,” Rung and Scott wrote.

Comments on the draft guidance will be accepted until April 28.

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

Latest Podcasts