FTS to run SmartBuy

The Office of Management and Budget has turned over the operation and maintenance of the SmartBuy governmentwide software licensing initiative to the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service.

FTS commissioner Sandra Bates yesterday said her organization will act as a conduit between vendors and agencies, handling the contract administration.

The move is in preparation for the first few SmartBuy contracts, which are in final negotiations, said a GSA official who requested anonymity.

'This is a recognition that the program is maturing and needs an operational element,' Bate said during a presentation sponsored by Computer and Marketing Associates Inc. of Vienna, Va. 'The Office of Governmentwide Policy still is involved, but OMB asked us to step in.'

Bates said SmartBuy is part of a larger OMB initiative to improve agencies' software asset management. 'In my opinion, we have not been focusing on software assets, and they need to be managed and inventoried like other products,' she said. 'It becomes even more critical with the work we are doing with enterprise architecture.'

Bates said OMB will announce by the end of February where SmartBuy software asset management is heading.

'It is not going away, that's for sure,' she said.

She added the potential $100 million in savings from SmartBuy likely will not be realized in fiscal 2004 and might take as long as five years. She said OMB's $100 million prediction 'sounded a bit aggressive.'

Bates also said she met with staff members from the House Government Reform Committee to discuss the Networx governmentwide acquisition contract, the replacement for the FTS 2001 telecommunications contract. She said the committee plans a Feb. 26 hearing on the GWAC.

FTS received more than 50 responses with more than 750 suggestions to the Networx request for information released in October. 'We are struggling with many of the same issues we faced in 1996 when we started FTS 2001,' Bates said. 'We would like to release the draft request for proposals this summer.'

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