OMB Soon to Release New Mobile IT Policy

Published: January 27, 2016

Acquisition ReformMobilityOMB

OMB has a new mobile IT policy in the works that stands to consolidate mobile device and services contracts. Federal News Radio recently obtained and reported on OMB’s draft mobile IT services policy.

The draft policy prescribes that “effective immediately, except as provided in this policy, all agencies are prohibited from issuing solicitations for new contract awards for mobile device [sic] and services, and should look to the existing government-wide General Services Administration wireless solution.”

CIOs are to consolidate existing mobile device and service contracts to only one contract per carrier by September 30, 2018, according to the draft policy.  Agencies must also establish transition plans to the GSA wireless GWAC by August 31. Agencies are also advised to buy employees devices that are “one generation behind the most current release unless the agency demonstrates it can acquire the latest model at no additional cost. Agencies are also encouraged to standardize device capabilities and features to the maximum extent possible to leverage buying power to drive costs.” 

The new mobile policy follows on the heels of OMB’s policy of prohibiting most new contracts for laptops and desktops which was issued in October 2015.  Instead agencies are encouraged to look to SEWP, Schedule 70, and CIO-CS to fulfill such commodity IT requirements. 

GAO analyzed federal mobile device management and reported their findings in May of 2015.  GAO was tasked with determining the extent to which federal agencies maintained mobile device and wireless services inventories, and the extent to which they maintained procedures for monitoring and controlling spending.  GAO found that most agencies reviewed did not have an inventory of mobile devices and associated services.  Additionally, most agencies did not have documented procedures for monitoring device usage and spending.  A key reason agencies did not have enterprise-wide inventories and adequate procedures for monitoring and controlling spending was that they delegated responsibility to their components and used a decentralized approach to mobile IT management.

Deltek’s 2015 report, “Federal Priorities: Cloud, Big Data, Mobility and Data Centers, 2015-2020,” predicts that variability of mobile pricing will continue to drive strategic sourcing.  According to the report, GSA’s Wireless Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) provides an avenue for agencies to consolidate mobility spending and drive volume pricing advantages. To date, AT&T Mobility has captured 57% of total spending.

GSA’s assistant commissioner of the Office of Integrated Technology Services, Mary Davie, stated in a recent blog post that that spending on the GSA Wireless BPA increased by 500% from 2014 to 2015 resulting in an average savings of 27% for the participating agencies.

According to OMB estimates, the federal government spends approximately $1.2 billion annually on about 1.5 million mobile devices and associated services. Clearly the new policy is aimed at reducing costs for wireless equipment and services, and is a more heavy-handed way to steer agencies toward strategic sourcing to obtain savings.