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Federal Guidelines Recommend Software Asset Management to Curb Waste

June 07, 2016

It may not come as much of a surprise that the U.S. federal government is horribly wasteful, operating with massive amounts of bulk and overhead while doing little to trim the fat. Technology is no exception but what may come as a shock is congressional acknowledgment of the government’s massive software licensing waste problem.

The result is the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), which offers baselines and guidelines designed to direct federal agencies on how to manage software and cut waste. The federal Office of Management and Budget recently released a set of guidelines for FITARA, including guidance on improving the Acquisition and Management of Software licensing. According to a blog post from Flexera Software, a company that specializes in software licensing optimization and management, the guidelines come at a critical time.

“The federal government spends more than $6 billion per year on software,” wrote Jim Ryan, CEO of Flexera. “Without a government-wide software asset management strategy in place, Flexera Software estimates that as much as 25 percent of that software spend – or $1.5 billion – is wasted annually. That waste occurs because software is a fundamentally complex and difficult asset to manage.” 

The federal guidelines address software asset management and licensing in a number of ways, designed to help agencies trim the fat and curb waste. Advice includes appointing a software manager tasked with centralizing license management as well as implementing strategies to reduce duplication and ensure best practices. Offices are also expected to maintain an agency-wide inventory of software licenses to keep track of what has been purchased, deployed and in use as well as spending for subscription services like cloud and SaaS (News - Alert).

Other recommendations include using IT tools to support the processes for compiling and maintaining software license inventories. These include software asset management (SAM) and software licensing optimization, two areas of specialization for Flexera. Agencies are advised to use this technology to automate their hardware and software asset discovery as well as to track IT asset inventory and software license optimization as well as SAM data sharing.

Agencies are additionally encouraged to develop automated and repeatable processes for aggregating software license and maintenance requirements as well as analyze their inventories to ensure compliance and consolidate redundant applications. Finally, offices should centralize, streamline and establish best practices for software procurement and contracting.

The new federal guidelines are in line with what the private sector is already practicing in terms of curbing IT waste and operating more efficiently. With help from proven solutions like those from Flexera, the U.S. government can expect to realize similar savings and get a better handle on their software spending and management.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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