OMB and GSA will streamline enterprise licensing

The Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration are preparing agency guidance and a request for industry comment that would change the way the government buys software.

The two agencies hope to drive down the cost of enterprise licensing and improve the overall terms the government gets from software vendors, said Keith Thurston, assistant deputy associate administrator in GSA's Office of E-Government and Technology.

GSA is leading the effort through a program called SmartBuy, which aims for software managed and acquired on the right terms. SmartBuy will establish contracting vehicles from which individual agencies or the entire government can buy large numbers of software licenses. OMB announced SmartBuy in last month's E-Government Strategy report.

The agency guidance and RFC will be out later this summer, said a government official who requested anonymity.

'The push is to aggregate requirements and put in place agreements so that the government benefits from being a large buyer,' the official said. 'The federal government often is a vendor's largest single customer, and we ought to be getting the best price. Many times we don't act like the largest customer because of the way we purchase goods and services.'

The Interior Department, the Navy and GSA already are buying software licenses on a agencywide scale, Thurston said.

Mary Mitchell, deputy associate administrator in the Office of E-Government and Technology, said SmartBuy initially will target specific software classes such as antivirus and network management applications. An interagency working group is developing goals, performance metrics and how SmartBuy will work, she said.

'We hope to have some experience in buying governmentwide before the end of this fiscal year,' Mitchell said.

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