Long dormant federal efforts to codify a requirement for contracting officers to consider governmentwide enterprise agreements when buying software died a quiet death earlier this year.
A proposed change to the Federal Acquisition Regulation published for public comment in 2007 would have required civilian contracting officers to consider buying software through the General Services Administration’s SmartBuy initiative or the Defense Department’s Enterprise Software Initiative. Both efforts have blanket purchase agreements with some software publishers, the idea being for vendors to give their lowest price possible in exchange for access to a Defense- or government-wide market.
In recent years, some government and former government officials have privately said neither effort has lived up to its promise, while software publishers have complained that oversight associated with signing an agreement is intrusive and the margins too low to justify participation.
In an April 18 list of closed FAR proposals–closed whether because the change was accepted or rejected–the SmartBuy case is listed as “closed at the direction of the FAR Principals.” The language the case proposed has not been incorporated into the FAR.
Closure of the case does not affect Defense Department contracting officials, who are already required under DFARS 208.74 to purchase through the Enterprise Software Initiative if (according to PGI 208.7403 ) its terms, conditions and prices “represent the best value.” The ESI also added commodity hardware, such as laptops and printers, to its roster of products in November 2010.
SmartBuy in particular attracted some high-profile publishers in the initial years after its creation in 2003. Most notably, Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) signed a SmartBuy agreement in 2005 after some years-long behind the scenes maneuvering that some officials say included sale staff from the notoriously hardball software firm attempting to dissuade agency officials from utilizing SmartBuy.
The General Services Administration may have spurred the Oracle deal after it told other agencies in 2005 to cease purchasing Oracle licenses unless through SmartBuy, which they said at the time would be signed shortly–a fact that some industry officials at the time disputed.
— Published on FierceGovernmentIT (http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/) – Apr. 19, 2011 – 10:09pm