Legislation would reduce $12 billion federal software bill

January 24, 2024

A pair of U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would avoid duplicative federal software by preventing federal agencies from hiring contractors to reproduce code that another agency has already purchased.

Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Gary Peters, D-Michigan, introduced the Source Code Harmonization and Reuse in Information Technology, or SHARE IT, Act last week, saying it would reduce the federal government’s annual $12 billion bill on custom-developed proprietary software code.

“Each year, federal agencies spend billions for software that may be duplicative because it is not shared between agencies, despite existing infrastructure to do so,” Cruz said in a press release. “I am glad to join Chairman Peters in introducing this common-sense solution that will save taxpayer funds by holding federal agencies accountable for sharing the code they procure.”

Every year the federal government buys software, including both “off-the-shelf” like Microsoft Word and code that is “custom developed” for agencies, Cruz and Peters said in a statement.

The purchases include custom code for websites, public databases of government activity – such as grants.gov – computer models for regulatory analyses and mobile applications.

Federal agencies were instructed in 2016 to share code with each other under a federal source-code policy that recognized the problem. However, the policy did not include accountability mechanisms, uniformity in accessing code or reporting requirements for agencies that did not share their code. As a result, 13 federal agencies still do not share code they buy with the rest of the government.

The SHARE IT Act requires federal agencies to list custom code they make or buy and share it with the rest of the government. The legislation ensures code created by contractors for the government is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The bill exempts disclosure of code for national security systems, classified code or code whose disclosure would create an identifiable risk to individual privacy.

Agency chief information officers are responsible for overseeing code sharing and must submit annual reports to Congress documenting compliance. Federal agencies have the flexibility to choose how to share code via existing code.gov, open-source tools like Git or commercial platforms like GitHub or Bitbucket.

Code.gov, launched in 2015, has saved the government over $18 million while providing agencies with access to more than $1 billion worth of software developed for other parts of the federal government.

All news and information on this site is provided by the team at Strategic Partnerships, Inc. Check out this short 1-minute video that provides a quick overview of how we work with clients.

Photo by Mohammad Rahmani on Unsplash

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