The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved by voice vote today a bill that would order Federal government agencies to undertake an inventory of all software used by the government – with a view toward eventually creating strategies to consolidate government software contracts, create governmentwide software licenses, and move toward adopting open-source software.

The bill – the Strengthening Agency Management and Oversight of Software Assets Act – was introduced earlier this month by committee Chairman Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.

The legislation would not on its own institute the proposed changes in Federal government software procurement and use, but it would order Federal agencies to undertake much of the groundwork necessary to prepare for those changes.

The bill declares its aim to “improve the visibility, accountability, and oversight of agency software asset management practices.”

According to text of the legislation, the bill would:

  • Give Federal agency CIOs one year to complete “comprehensive” assessments of their software contracts and inventories, including lists of their largest software suppliers, costs and volumes of software purchased, and software that is being paid for but not deployed;
  • Require agency CIOs and agency officials to present the assessments to agency heads, the Comptroller General, and the Senate Homeland Security and House Oversight and Reform committees;
  • Require agency CIOs to develop plans to consolidate software licenses at their agencies and adopt agency-wide enterprise license agreements. Those plans would include strategies for measuring actual software usage, priorities for converting to enterprise licenses, and cost estimates to moving toward enterprise, open-source, or other licenses that “do not restrict the use of software by the agency, and any projected cost savings or efficiency measures”;
  • Give the Office of Management and Budget two years to submit a strategy to the Senate Homeland Security and House Oversight and Reform committees that includes proposals to “support the adoption of governmentwide enterprise licenses on the most widely used and most costly software entitlements identified through the comprehensive assessment and plans,” show opportunities to leverage government procurement policies and practices to increase interoperability of software contracts to reduce cost and improve performance, entitlements acquired and deployed to reduce costs and improve performance; and provide “directions to agencies to transition to open-source software to obtain cost savings and performance improvement.”

The Senate bill approved today does not appear to have a House companion measure.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.