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Federal Software Acquisition Bills Reintroduced in Senate, House

Bipartisan legislation that aims to improve management of how the Federal government purchases and uses software was reintroduced in the both the Senate and the House this week.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., are trying again to get agencies to deal with the long-standing challenge of buying duplicative software with the Strengthening Agency Management and Oversight of Software Assets Act.

The bill would require Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, and the General Services Administration to conduct an independent, comprehensive assessment of their software licensing practices in order to increase Federal oversight of software contracts, streamline operations, and reduce wasteful spending.

“Improving how the government manages something as simple as the software they buy can help save taxpayers in the long run,” Sen. Peters said in the March 22 press release. 

“By requiring federal agencies to better track their software purchases, this commonsense, bipartisan bill will reduce waste, save taxpayer dollars, strengthen cybersecurity, and modernize government operations to help ensure the federal government can more effectively serve taxpayers,” Sen. Peters said.

The findings from the reviews required by the legislation would help agency chief information officers better manage how their agencies buy IT products.

“Taxpayers expect us to be responsible with their money. The government should not be overpaying for software when the same product is available for less,” Sen. Cassidy said in a statement. “This bill requires agencies to spend their money as if a taxpayer was spending their own money – wisely.”

A companion bill to the Senate legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives, which is sponsored by Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., and a bipartisan group of 10 other members.

Lawmakers said the latest bill would build on the success of the MEGABYTE Act, which was enacted in 2016 and compelled agencies to report licensing information on software contracts struck with technology companies. The press release says the act has saved taxpayers more than $450 million since 2016 by reducing duplicative software purchases.

The Strengthening Agency Management and Oversight of Software Assets Act passed out of Peters’ committee last year but had a House companion bill that never made it to the floor for a vote during the 117th Congress’ lame-duck session.