House lawmakers introduce bill to overhaul how agencies buy software

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 04: Early morning fog envelopes the U.S. Capitol dome behind the U.S. House of Representatives. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

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Lawmakers in the House of Representatives Thursday introduced bipartisan legislation that would mandate the consolidation of federal agency software licenses and force agencies to take a more transparent approach to software purchasing, if it passes into law.

The Strengthening Agency Management and Oversight of Software Assets Act (SAMOSA) was introduced by Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-PA, and is expected to significantly affect how federal agencies approach the purchasing of software and IT services.

The legislation has already been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Gary Peters, D-MI, and Bill Cassidy, R-LA, who introduced their version of the SAMOSA Act in September. Details of that bill were first reported by FedScoop.

The Senate bill has already advanced out of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and is expected on the Senate floor at some point next year.

“Without in-depth assessments of how agencies buy and use software, vendors often have the upper hand in transactions with federal agencies,” Rep. Cartwright said in a statement. “This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will streamline software procurement practices governmentwide to the benefit of American taxpayers.”

This legislation has been cosponsored by 14 House members already including: Reps. Dan Meuser, R-PA, Ed Case, D-HI, Gerry Connolly, D-VA, Danny Davis, D-IL, Brian Fitzpatrick, R-PA, Glenn Grothman, R-WI, Michael Guest, R-MS, Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX, Brenda Lawrence, D-MI, Mike Levin, D-CA, Ted Lieu, D-CA, Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC, Katie Porter, D-CA, and Jamie Raskin, D-MD.

The bill would build upon the Megabyte Act, which was enacted in 2016, and compelled agencies to report licensing information on software contracts struck with technology companies. Since it passed into law, that legislation to a degree has increased lawmakers’ visibility of what IT services federal agencies are using.

According to the Senate bill text, multiple reports from the Government Accountability Office and other organizations in recent years have shown that federal agencies could manage their software licenses better to save taxpayer dollars and more effectively execute technology modernization efforts.

Major federal government software and cloud service providers like Microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, Oracle and Adobe are expected to be affected significantly by the legislation. 

IT contracting sources told FedScoop that Microsoft, which by some estimates holds about 85% of the market share of the federal government’s productivity and collaboration software, is expected to be affected the most by the bill. 

The House bill is intended to improve the federal agency software procurement process and save money by forcing agencies to conduct independent reviews to ensure they have a clearer understanding of agency software licenses by cost and volume. 

In its current form, the proposed legislation would require each Inspector General to complete an Independent review of software license management within their respective agency. This would take place one year after the bill passes into law, and would be required to capture the total costs of all software agreements as well as related costs.

The bill also includes a government wide strategy to leverage government procurement policies and practices to increase the interoperability of software acquired and deployed within agencies to reduce costs and improve performance.

It would also direct agencies to provide shared services or other assistance capabilities to support agency enterprise license adoption, transition to open-source software, cost savings, and performance improvements.

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Bipartisanship, House of Representatives, SAMOSAA, Sen. Gary Peters, software, Software Acquisition, software licensing
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