Rep. Walsh: Eliminating wasteful software licenses 'simple' way to save

Wednesday - 1/4/2012, 9:36pm EST

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.)

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By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio
@jmooreWFED

An amendment to the 2012 Homeland Security Department's authorization bill would require the DHS CIO to tighten spending on and better inventory the software licenses the department purchases.

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) introduced the amendment, which was approved by the House Homeland Security Committee in October. The committee is still in the process of marking up the full bill.

Walsh told In Depth with Francis Rose the concept is simple but could lead to big savings.

"There are so many places to cut and save money when you really sort of go down below the service," he said. He reviewed several areas of potential savings with his staff, he explained, but was surprised by the amount of money the government spends on software — about $40 billion a year.

Walsh said federal agencies "waste" about 30 percent of that through over- or under-purchasing.

"There are just some simple, little things like this that can become big things in actual savings," he said.

The law would only apply to DHS, but Walsh said he hoped it could serve as a model for the rest of the government.

The concept of software-asset management "where they really get a handle on their software needs and they make more efficient and timely purchases," as Walsh described it, is not a new concept in the private-sector, he said.

This is a ... relatively easy, painless way to save federal spending without in essence having to cut anything," he added.

Tightening down on the purchase of software licenses and other efficiencies should be the precursor to actual spending and program cuts, Walsh also.

But more efficient use of resources is not the only area of savings. Walsh acknowledged the administration's efforts to root out waste, fraud and abuse in federal spending but suggested they hadn't gone far enough.

"I think they've made some gentle progress in the area of improper payments," he said. " I think, in general, in the whole waste, fraud and abuse arena, they've given nothing but lip service to this. They're not alone in this. Virtually every administration that's come in — Republican and Democrat — and truly most of the Congresses as well. This is such an easy thing to tout ... But at the end of the day it's never really done."

Danny Werfel, the controller of the Office of Management and Budget, told Federal News Radio in November the government was able to stop $18 billion in improper payments last year through better use of technology and cross-agency partnerships.