Software licensing catches GAO’s attention again


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Management of information technology investments is again a target of the Government Accountability Office’s annual report on reducing fragmentation, overlap and duplication in federal services.

For the past five years, GAO has released this report to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, so far resulting in $20 billion in savings across federal agencies that have followed its recommendations. The oversight office claims agencies could save another $80 billion.

Tuesday, GAO Comptroller Gene Dodaro submitted a report to the committee that listed 66 recommendations for reducing duplicative efforts in 24 areas — including the management of IT investments, which continually makes the list.

New on the 2015 list is federal software licensing, which was also the subject of a May 2014 GAO report. The office found that while some agencies have saved million while scratching the surface of software license management, “the potential exists for even greater savings and additional opportunities to reduce software license spending and duplication than what agencies had reported,” according to the report.”

GAO found in May that “federal agencies were generally not following the leading practices,” which it said were “centralizing management; establishing a comprehensive inventory of licenses; regularly tracking and maintaining comprehensive inventories using automated discovery and inventory tools and metrics; analyzing the software license data to inform investment decisions and identify opportunities to reduce costs; and providing appropriate personnel with sufficient training on software license management.”

But Dodaro and the committee saw a bright future in IT investment management with last year’s passage of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act. Not only does FITARA focus on better software licensing practices, but it also addresses data center consolidation and wiser IT acquisition, which appeared as list items in previous years’ reports.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the committee’s ranking member, said at a hearing on the report Tuesday that the legislation, much of which “was based on GAO’s good work identifying duplication and waste in the federal government’s purchase of information technology,” should add up to billions in savings.

Dodaro agreed, testifying that FITARA “holds a lot of promise, if effectively implemented, for billions of dollars in savings.”

In its report, GAO also made recommendations for the country’s geospatial investments, a topic that made its annual list in 2013. The GAO called on the Office of Management and Budget to improve oversight of progress on the National Spatial Data Infrastructure “[t]o better facilitate the coordination of — and accountability for — the estimated billions of dollars in federal geospatial investments.”

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Congress, Gene Dodaro, Government Accountability Office (GAO), Government IT News, Tom Carper