Army audits software assets

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.'An Army National Guard study that examined how frequently three software products were used in 21 states found that the majority of Guard users had never actually used the products.

Now, the same asset discovery pilot exercise is going Army-wide as a way to help senior officials keep a better accounting of the items in its portfolio.

Army CIO Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle said the service authorized the purchase of asset management software developed by BDNA Corp. of Mountain View, Calif., to get a handle on other unused software programs. The directors of information management will use the tool to inventory their software programs and usage. The same effort will be performed centrally out of the CIO's office, Boutelle said.

"Guess who's paying for the licenses?" Boutelle asked attendees at the Army LandWarNet Conference. "By next summer, we're going to start shutting down licenses. We need those resources to reallocate other places. We've allowed this stuff to sprout like flowers."

In the Army National Guard pilot, officials looked at Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Office's Project and Visio programs. Across the 21 states, they found that 61.5 percent of Guard employees had never used the Adobe product, 77 percent had never touched Project, and 67 percent had never launched Visio.

"It was surprising but it wasn't a shock," Boutelle said of the findings.

The asset work the Army is beginning is part of a larger plan to phase out legacy programs and systems under a "Buy, Hold, Sell" portfolio management philosophy, Boutelle said, acknowledging that the Army cannot afford to continue on its current path.

Commanders need to ask themselves which of the programs under their control are programs of record, which ones have become de facto programs of record and which ones they can get rid of.

"We have built an Army that's unsustainable for the long-term," Boutelle said. "We cannot afford to operate the Army we built today in the future. As the budget goes down, those supplementals will dry up."

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