OMB highlights software licensing

The Office of Management and Budget yesterday reminded agencies to consult with their legal counsel before making software purchases.

In a memo to CIOs and senior procurement executives, Karen Evans, OMB IT and e-government administrator, and Robert Burton, acting administrator in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said agencies must ensure software licensing requirements are understood before purchasing technology because they can be 'legally complex and can directly impact agency operations.'

OMB specifically mentions open-source software because it is 'licensed with certain common restrictions, which generally differ from proprietary software.' These differences include security, total cost of ownership and the effect of the software's use. OMB said all these differences 'must be considered when an agency is planning a software acquisition.'

The administration instructed the agencies in a March memo to freeze software purchases 30 days before the General Services Administration finalizes an enterprise license agreement under the SmartBuy initiative (Click for March 8 GCN story). So far, GSA has negotiated two enterprise agreements with geographic information systems vendor ESRI and supply chain management vendor Manugistics Group Inc. of Rockville, Md. The agency also is close to finishing a deal with Novell Inc.

'Agencies must consider the total cost of ownership including lifecycle maintenance costs, the costs associated with risk issues, including security and privacy of data, and the costs of ensuring security of the IT system,' the latest memo said.

OMB has focused on software purchases over the past year. Agencies submitted software asset inventories in June that will clarify the priorities of the SmartBuy program.

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