Davis asks administration to clarify SmartBuy plans

The government's operations watchdog on Capitol Hill is asking the Office of Management and Budget to divulge details of the stalled enterprise software program known as SmartBuy.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the Government Reform Committee, wants answers to 21 questions proposed by industry (PDF). He sent a letter last month to Karen Evans, administrator for IT and e-government at the Office of Management and Budget, asking OMB and the General Services Administration, which is managing SmartBuy, to clarify the plans for the project.

Davis said IT vendors expect the answers will help them in "understanding the new processes being envisioned and maximizing their ability to participate effectively therein."

The project to negotiate governmentwide enterprise software deals has gone far slower than planned and has been tweaked by OMB and GSA. Originally, OMB expected GSA to finish a few agreements with vendors before October. So far, GSA has inked no deals.

Initially, the project focused on total cost, but vendors and agencies questioned that as well as some other requirements about how the deals would work. OMB and GSA introduced a new direction in November that they said would make the enterprise agreements set under SmartBuy more flexible.

But Davis said there are still too many unknowns. "I would appreciate any assistance you could provide in ensuring that these questions receive thorough responses and are made publicly available so that there can be a better public understanding of the plan, the process and the priorities under SmartBuy," he said. "I believe that such a move would help promote the public-private partnership that is so critical to the success of any SmartBuy program."

This is the second letter from a House lawmaker since September asking OMB and GSA to explain what is happening with the program. Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), chairman of the Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census, questioned why SmartBuy was taking so long to get going.

Jason Miller writes for Government Computer News magazine.

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