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Rep. Cartwright's Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Federal Software Purchasing Protocols Advances in the House

The Strengthening Agency Management and Oversight of Software Assets Act builds on Cartwright’s MEGABYTE Act that has already saved U.S. taxpayers more than $450 million

Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) to increase oversight of federal government software purchases and reduce wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars advanced in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The Strengthening Agency Management and Oversight of Software Assets Act was the only Democrat-sponsored bill included in the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability’s markup and was approved by a 39-0 roll call vote. It now moves forward to be debated by lawmakers on the House floor.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) led the companion legislation, which advanced out of Committee in May.

Each year, the federal government spends billions of taxpayer dollars on software purchases, renewals, and license modifications. Limited assessments of existing software assets, combined with the way vendors sell software, often results in federal agencies making duplicative purchases. Without increased agency oversight and governance, software vendors profit at the expense of American taxpayers.  

Reintroduced earlier this year, The Strengthening Agency Management and Oversight of Software Assets Act would require federal agencies to conduct an independent, comprehensive assessment of their current software assets and restructure their operations to reduce unnecessary costs.

“Without in-depth assessments of how agencies buy and use software, vendors often have the upper hand in transactions with federal agencies,” said Rep. Cartwright. “This critical legislation will allow agencies to make more informed choices when procuring software, saving millions of American taxpayer dollars in the long run. Its passage by the House Oversight Committee demonstrates that bipartisan and bicameral cooperation is still possible.”

“By addressing wasteful software licensing, we can enhance government operations and ensure taxpayer dollars are used wisely,” said Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC-01), a member of the Oversight Committee and cosponsor of the bill. “This legislation addresses government waste without being overbearing or overly prescriptive.” 

The Strengthening Agency Management and Oversight of Software Assets Act builds on the success of Rep. Cartwright’s MEGABYTE Act, which reduced duplicative software purchases. Signed into law in 2016, the bipartisan MEGABYTE Act has saved American taxpayers over $450 million.

Specifically, this new legislation would require:

·        Federal agencies to provide an independent, comprehensive assessment of their software purchasing practices to Congress, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the General Services Administration (GSA)

·        Chief Information Officers (CIOs) to develop a plan to adopt enterprise licensing agreements, improving negotiating power against software vendors, and reduce costs, and  

·        The Comptroller General to report to Congress on the government-wide trends in agency software asset management practices as well as agency compliance of certain provisions.

The legislation is also cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Andre Carson (D-IN-07), Ed Case (D-HI-01), Christopher DeLuzio (D-PA-17), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-37), Pat Fallon (R-TX-04), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Mike Levin (D-CA-49), Ted Lieu (D-CA-36), Dan Meuser (R-PA-09), Marcus Molinaro (R-NY-19), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-AL), Katie Porter (D-CA-45), Lloyd Smucker (R-PA-11), Melanie Stansbury (D-NM-01), and Jill Tokuda (D-HI-02).

This legislation has also received the support of the Coalition for Fair Software Licensing, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, NetChoice, and SIE Consulting Group.

The original full text of the bill can be viewed here. The amended text that passed out of the Oversight Committee can be viewed here.