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How “Smarter” Government Actually Works

Sunday June 1st, 2014   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 2:13pm PDT   •  

Last summer, on July 8, 2013, President Obama reported on how well his initiative to use technology, and specifically, information technology, to improve the performance of federal government agencies was coming along.

Let’s flash forward to May 28, 2014, nearly a year later, to a little noticed GAO report that documents how effectively the federal government is going about achieving the President’s goals. Jim Ryan of Flexera Software gets straight to the bottom line:

A new US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report has found waste in software spending widespread across the federal government due to lack of coherent and proactive software license management policies. Based on common inefficiencies we see in the private sector, we estimate that the US government wastes up to $2 billion per year, or 25 percent of its annual $8 billion software budget, on shelfware (unused software), under-utilized software, and non-optimized management of software licenses.

Strikingly, Ryan notes an element that’s common to every single scandal that has piled up on the Obama administration’s doorstep in recent years (emphasis ours):

The GAO report found that the vast majority of federal government agencies do not have adequate policies for managing software licenses, due in large part to lack of leadership and direction from OMB – whose core mission is to serve the President of the United States in implementing his vision across the Executive branch.

The current Administration has prioritized eliminating wasteful use of IT resources in its November 9, 2011, Executive Order 13589 promoting efficient agency spending, which states in part that, “Agencies should assess current device inventories and usage, and establish controls, to ensure that they are not paying for unused or underutilized IT equipment, installed software, or services.” Paradoxically, despite its mission to support the President’s vision, report commentary stated that the OMB disagreed with the GAOs findings and had “no plans to develop federal guidance on software license management.”

In short, the Obama administration denies its lack of effective leadership and management of the federal government is a problem and has no plans to resolve the issue. Even if it means that 25% of the federal government’s budget for information technology is being needlessly wasted.

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June 2014