“Fraud, waste, and abuse” is a collective, catch-all term that the federal government uses as a cautionary highlight. It serves as everything from a justification as to why a change must be made, to a rallying cry to individuals to stop the drain of financial resources at every turn. But now the Office of Management and Budget–the largest office within the executive branch, charged with producing the President’s proposed budget and then overseeing the spending–has called on the entire government to stop wasting so much money on software.
Last December, the OMB spread the word to government agencies that big changes were coming in the way software would be bought, used, and upgraded. Some of the changes involve establishing a software manager position within every agency to oversee the best practices of any given title, to help ensure that software is not only up-to-date but also relevant to their mission, and to look for other ways each agency can save money through software instead of haemorrhage it.
Now that sufficient time has passed for the OMB’s message to be shared and responded to, the proposed changes will take effect. According to a WhiteHouse.gov blog post on the proposal dated June 2nd, “To take advantage of this buying power, reduce duplication and fragmentation, and ultimately save money, the policy released today will help agencies move to a more centralized and collaborative software management approach. It calls on agencies to appoint a software manager to centrally manage software buys and reduce underutilization, to maintain a continual inventory of software licenses and better track usage, to consolidate redundant applications while identifying other savings, and to maximize the use of best-in-class solutions.”
The government at every level doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to technology spending. In the now-infamous San Bernardino shooter iPhone case, the FBI would never have needed to wage war against Apple over unlocking it had the county government who’d issued it actually installed the remote unlock feature they’d been paying for ever since it was purchased; that begs the question, how many other purchased features in that county (and every other government agency) have been paid for but never installed? In terms of the OMB, their announcement revealed that they have done away with more than “700 duplicative professional services contracts, which is estimated to save the Government nearly $4 million over the next five years with sustained annual savings of $1.3 million thereafter.”
Part of the work of eliminating those extremely expensive and wasteful contracts is first bringing in a software manager to even know they exist. And with an estimated $6 billion budgeted for software spending alone, it doesn’t take long to burn through that money if someone isn’t watching to see where it goes.