$4B waste is what the MEGABYTE Act is going after

Two senators are pushing OMB and agencies to rein in spending on software licenses.

Even before agencies have finalized how they will implement the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, two lawmakers are pushing for more.

Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) introduced the Making Electronic Government Accountable by Yielding Tangible Efficiencies (MEGABYTE) Act of 2015 to reform the government’s management of IT software licenses.

While FITARA was much broader, Cassidy and Peters believe the government could save $4 billion a year by better managing licenses.

“Billions of taxpayer dollars could be saved if federal agencies keep track of what software they buy. It’s irresponsible they don’t do so already,” said Cassidy in a Dec. 7 release. “Tax dollars could be better used on our troops and our classrooms, not redundant software licenses.”

Cassidy and Peters introduced the bill Dec. 2 and it was referred to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The MEGABYTE Act would require:

  • The director of the Office of Management and Budget to issue a directive requiring agencies to identify clear roles, responsibilities and central oversight authority within the agency for managing enterprise software license agreements and commercial software licenses.
  • Agencies to establish a comprehensive inventory, including 80 percent of software license spending and enterprise licenses in the agency.
  • Agencies to regularly track and maintain software licenses in implementing decisions throughout the software license management lifecycle.
  • Agencies to analyze software usage and other data to make cost-effective decisions.
  • Departments to provide training relevant to software license management.
  • Departments to establish goals and objectives of the software license management program of the agency.
  • Agencies to consider the software license management lifecycle phases, including the requisition, reception, deployment and maintenance, retirement, and disposal phases, to implement effective decision making and incorporate existing standards, processes, and metrics.

Cassidy picked up this fight after a Government Accountability Office report from May 2014 finding agencies struggle to manage software, likely are spending too much for licenses and not taking advantage of existing enterprise deals. He wrote a letter to OMB Director Shaun Donovan in June 2015 asking for more information on agency software license management efforts.

The MEGABYTE Act comes as agencies are just getting started in implementing FITARA, which also includes a provision to rein in software licenses. The law requires the General Services Administration, in collaboration with OMB, to create a governmentwide enterprise software licenses through new awards as part of category management. These awards shall, at a minimum, allow for the purchase of a license agreement that is available for use by all executive agencies.

The White House and Congress have tried over the last decade to better manage software licenses. The SmartBuy initiative, run by GSA, has had limited success. The Defense Department’s enterprise software license initiative has fared better in controlling costs, but the military still finds itself with. But as GAO has found, agencies have a long way to go and Cassidy and Peters are the next men up to turn the tide.

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