OMB ignores GAO’s software licensing recommendations

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2014_09_omb-logo1Following a report released by the Government Accountability Office in May that said federal agencies need better software licensing management, a new GAO report released last week found that all but three heeded the suggestions.

According to the report, 21 of the 24 agencies observed acted on the suggestions and established action plans to address them, up from just two that had comprehensive policies for software license management when the first report was released.

In May, the Office of Management and Budget, along with many other agencies, did not have substantial policies in place to manage its software licenses. Without more explicit policies and mandates on software licenses, GAO said it would be difficult for OMB to effectively manage them. But the new report said OMB has no plans in the works to address GAO’s May suggestions.

Carol Cha, director of information technology acquisition management issues at GAO, said that according to OMB, this management is not a priority.

“What we would like to see from OMB is to provide and give attention to this area that is desperately needed,” Cha told FedScoop.

Cha also said OMB disagreed with GAO, arguing OMB already has “sufficient enough policies to guide agencies in developing these comprehensive management polices.”

During fiscal year 2014, the federal government planned to spend $82 billion on information technology, such as software licenses. The new GAO report said effective management of these licenses would aid in the avoidance of unnecessary spending and licensing issues.

In all, 135 recommendations were made to the agencies for improving their management of the software. Eleven of the agencies completely agreed with GAO’s recommendations, five partially agreed, two neither agreed nor disagreed, and six had no comments. OMB was the only agency to disagree completely with the GAO’s advice.

One of the compliant agencies, the Education Department, has already acted on the findings of the GAO. The department’s chief information officer has initiated a “department-wide directive that establishes guidelines for software acquisition and management, and places central control for software license management within the office of the CIO,” the report said.

The National Science Foundation also has plans to develop policies regarding software management, create an inventory of all licenses being used by the agency, identify all license data for cost reduction opportunities and provide training on management by October 2015.

However, Cha said OMB has the power to set the precedent for all the other agencies as leader in shaping IT policy for federal agencies.

“Until OMB actually issues a directive that specifies in very clear terms that there is a comprehensive set of practices that should be followed, agencies will not make it a priority,” Cha said.

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Agencies, Carol Cha, Congress, Department of Education, Departments, Government Accountability Office (GAO), Government IT News, Management & Budget, National Science Foundation, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), oversight, Regulations & Oversight, software licensing, Tech, White House
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