New rules coming for how agencies buy mobile services

OMB will issue two new policies in the coming months. One for enterprise software licensing, which currently is in draft, and another on IT mobile services.

Like an archaeological dig where each layer of earth provides new discoveries, the update of cross-agency priority goals on is a treasure trove of progress and new expectations.

This week, I broke through the category management layer and found the Office of Management and Budget’s 2016 to-do list growing.

In addition to new policies on data center consolidation and open source that I reported on last week, OMB’s e-gov office and Office of Federal Procurement Policy will issue guidance on IT software and on IT mobile services.

Anne Rung, OFPP administrator, and Tony Scott, the federal chief information officer, issued a draft policy in late December to try, once again, to better manage the $9 billion agencies spend annually on software licenses.

The draft policy, which currently shows only four comments, would increase the number of enterprise software license agreements available across government.

OMB says its goal is to reduce the amount of money spent on IT software contracts by 10 percent by the end of 2016 and 20 percent by the end of 2017. How much is that? Your guess is as good as mine, as OMB says the initial baseline and the end-of-calendar-year 2015 goals are “to be determined.”

Less is publicly known about the IT mobile services policy that’s in the works.

If you read between the lines a little, the policy likely will have to do with gaining better control over common services for smartphones and tablets.

OMB and OFPP are developing this policy in light of what the Government Accountability Office found in May.

Auditors said agencies spend about $1.2 billion a year on mobile devices, yet by and large, most are not staying on top of tracking the spending, inventory and usage of these devices.

GAO also found when it comes to monthly mobile service costs, agencies “paid a range of rates per line for various service combinations, from $21 for 200 voice minutes, unlimited data and 200 text messages, to $122 for unlimited voice, data and text messages.”

Among the auditors’ recommendations were for OMB to measure and report progress in achieving mobile cost savings.

OMB said it expects to issue both the IT software and mobile services policies in the second quarter of 2016 — so by the end of March.

The overall category management initiative continues to make progress as well, OMB reported.

OFPP and the e-gov office reported agencies saved $1 billion more through category management initiatives such as strategic sourcing and taking advantage of enterprise IT contracts. OMB said by the end of 2016, agencies are expected to save another $2.3 billion for a total of $5.8 billion.

The governmentwide goal for savings is without a doubt a stretch. One of the longest standing strategic sourcing programs, office supplies, isn’t doing well. But that’s a story for another notebook (hint, hint).

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