OMB freezes agencies from buying or renewing software licenses

OMB freezes agencies from buying or renewing software licenses

The Office of Management and Budget has directed agencies to stop buying or renewing software licenses to the maximum extent so that the General Services Administration can start purchasing governmentwide licenses.

In a memo released yesterday, outgoing OMB director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., whose last day is tomorrow, designated GSA as the executive agent for the federal government to negotiate enterprise licenses under a program called SmartBuy. (Read the memo and additional GCN coverage of SmartBuy.)

'More than 4 million desktop, laptop and networked computers serve as essential tools for achieving the missions of federal agencies,' Daniels said. 'Since each computer uses at least one commercial software package, federal agencies engage in thousands of licensing agreements annually. This uncoordinated approach to acquiring common software is wasteful and ineffective.'

Daniels added that agencies' use of different versions of software increases the difficulty and cost of securing computers.

OMB and GSA will approve agency requests to buy or renew software licenses during this transition to SmartBuy, Daniels said.

The SmartBuy initiative will move to enterprise licenses for office automation, network management, antivirus, database, business modeling tools and open-source software support applications, Daniels said.

Under Smart buy, GSA will work with agencies to:

  • Collect information on existing agreements, prices, unique terms and conditions, and future software needs through a Web survey that will be used to devise the new acquisition strategy


  • Develop a migration strategy and contracts needed to move to enterprisewide agreements


  • Integrate common software licenses.


  • 'Several agencies have negotiated independent departmentwide licenses, creating a wide disparity in prices paid by agencies for exactly the same software,' Daniels said. 'As an example, the amount that federal agencies pay for common desktop software varies from under $200 to about $500.'

    Daniels said the government could save more than $100 million annually by buying enterprise software licenses.

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