WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shaun Donovan concerning federal agencies wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on the lack of management and the duplication of software products for these agencies.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said implementing oversight and management policies of federal software licenses is estimated to save up to $181 million tax dollars per agency per year, or more than $4 billion tax dollars per year.
“More than $4 billion taxpayer dollars could be saved if federal agencies keep track of what software they buy. It’s irresponsible they don’t do so already. Tax dollars could be better used on our troops and our classrooms, not redundant software programs.”
Dr. Cassidy also introduced the Eliminating Government-Funded Oil-Painting (EGO) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. The EGO Act bans taxpayer funds from being used for oil paintings of the president, vice president, cabinet officials or members of Congress which can often cost as much as $40,000.
Read the letter below:
June 2, 2015
The Honorable Shaun Donovan
Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503
Dear Director Donovan,
I am writing to express my deep concern over the management of the federal government’s software license inventory. Specifically, I am troubled by the information presented in the May 22, 2014 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report entitled Federal Software Licenses: Better Management Needed to Achieve Significant Savings Government-Wide. These concerns were echoed for the second time in 2 years in the 2015 report entitled Additional Opportunities to Reduce Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication and Achieve Other Financial Benefits. The May 2014 report determined that the Executive Branch does “not have adequate policies for managing software licenses”.
The report states that of the twenty-four major federal agencies, only two have implemented policies of comprehensive and clear management of federal software licenses. It is estimated that these oversight policies save just one agency $181 million per year. Two of the twenty-four have established inventories of their software licenses. Furthermore, none of the agencies have fully implemented all five practices recommended by GAO. This troubling information shows that there is great potential for additional systemic issues, like those seen at the Department of Veterans Affairs and Internal Revenue Service.
In addition to the 2014 report, GAO testified on June 10, 2014 before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Sub-committee on Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce. The testimony explains that “The weaknesses in agencies’ policies were due, in part, to the lack of a priority for establishing software license management practices … and a lack of direction from OMB”. In an interview with GAO investigators, one official from OMB’s Office of E-Government and Information Technology said the agency has “no plans to develop such guidance at this time.” However, the report concludes that there must be “sufficient direction from OMB, [or] opportunities to systematically identify software license related cost savings across the federal government will likely continue to be missed.”
Based on the above information, I request answers to the following questions:
- Of the twenty-four federal agencies reviewed by GAO, is OMB aware of any agency that has an internal, agency-wide policy on the proper use/management of their software licenses?
- Why has OMB not undertaken a more direct oversight approach to the management of federal agency software licensing, especially given the potential for cost savings as detailed in this report?
- Pursuant to the 2014 GAO report, $82 billion dollars a year is spent on federal IT and a great amount of that money could be saved by implementing the five suggested practices. Does OMB plan to issue guidance to those applicable federal agencies, and if not, why?
I appreciate your prompt attention to these questions.
Bill Cassidy, M.D.
United States Senator