Federal Software Licenses:

Most Agencies Have Reported Planned Actions to Address Our Prior Recommendations on Software License Management

GAO-14-835R: Published: Sep 23, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 23, 2014.

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Carol R. Cha
(202) 512-4456


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What GAO Found

As of August 2014, the majority of agencies that have provided information reported that they plan to address most of the recommendations GAO made to them. Specifically, 21 agencies plan to fully address all recommendations. For example, the Department of Education stated that in response to the weakness GAO identified, a department-wide directive that establishes guidelines for software acquisition and management and places central control for software license management within the Office of the Chief Information Officer was developed. In addition, three agencies have reported that they plan to address most recommendations, but not all, primarily because they partially disagreed with the report’s prior findings or did not provide information on their efforts to address the recommendations made. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency stated that it plans to begin assessing its existing automated tools, governance structures, and other federal agencies processes and policies in its efforts to begin developing a comprehensive software license management program. However, no additional actions are planned to provide software license management training to appropriate agency personnel. Finally, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) continues to disagree with GAO’s recommendation to issue a directive to help guide agencies manage their software licenses and as a result, does not have plans yet to address this recommendation. As previously reported, until the agencies have sufficient direction from OMB, opportunities to systematically identify software license related cost savings across the federal government will likely continue to be missed. Of the 136 recommendations made, agencies have planned actions for 129 recommendations, no actions planned for 6 and the status is unknown for 1.

Why GAO Did This Study

In May 2014 GAO reported on federal agencies’ management of software licenses and that better management was needed to achieve significant savings government-wide. Specifically, GAO found that OMB and the vast majority of agencies reviewed did not have adequate policies for managing software licenses; federal agencies were not adequately managing their software licenses because they generally did not follow leading practices in this area; and we could not accurately describe the most widely used software applications across the government, including the extent to which they were over and under purchased. Accordingly, GAO made over 100 recommendations aimed at addressing these weaknesses. GAO’s objective is to describe OMB and federal agencies’ current and planned actions to address its recommendations on software license management. To describe agencies’ current or planned actions, GAO obtained and reviewed OMB and the 24 Chief Financial Officers Act agencies’ reported statement of actions about their efforts to address the recommendations and also gathered relevant information from agencies’ comments on GAO’s May 2014 report.

For more information, contact Carol R. Cha at (202) 512-4456 or chac@gao.gov.

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