Better management of federal government IT assets is where the rubber meets the road

AmericanFlagKeyboard(own)Recently, I’ve had to go through a pain every car owner goes through every 50,000 miles or so—replacing tires. For me, this wasn’t a quick decision. I’m no car expert, so for weeks I’ve been asking myself questions like, is the auto mechanic being honest with me, I wonder how far I can drive before blowing my tires completely, how much tread do I really need to be safe? These questions reminded me of a recent article I read about the federal governments issues with proper IT asset management (ITAM).

The federal government’s lack of visibility into what IT assets they have, where they are, and how they’re preforming has left them asking questions similar to those I had during my recent tire-purchasing extravaganza. The real question – How do I get the most out of my IT investments while avoiding both financial and security risks?

The federal government spends about $70 billion a year on IT purchases.* Managing that kind of investment is a huge undertaking. Unfortunately, over the past several months, the government’s poor management of these IT investments seems to have been dominating the headlines. This has left taxpayers questioning if public funds are being mismanaged.

A recent report, produced by IAITAM, offers further evidence of wasted spending by stating that the Department of Homeland Security alone has saved $181 million in software licensing in one recent year.* This begs the question, how much could other government agencies be saving?

So how exactly did the Department of Homeland Security save on software licensing? Having an accurate picture of what software licenses you have, along with related usage information, provides an opportunity to eliminate overspending on licenses not needed and identify areas where more licenses are needed to avoid audit penalties. Software usage information can also come in handy to understand what software is not being utilized by specific end users for reclamation and reassignment purposes for total license optimization. Further, complete visibility into licenses allows for improved negotiation with software vendors to make sure they aren’t “nickel and diming” you.

Security is another real threat to the federal government when IT assets are not managed properly. Lost or stolen hardware, unauthorized system use, mishandling hardware disposal and even mismanagement of off-boarding employees can lead to security breaches. For example, if an employee leaves for whatever reason, their hardware needs to be recovered, along with the software licenses, rights and privileges to systems and accounts payable.

Better control of IT asset inventory, software licensing, usage information, and more reduces the risk of federal government IT failures. Spending more money without proper ITAM controls in place is a prescription for more breaches created by outdated and or unpatched software.

Much like my recent tire purchase, IT asset management (ITAM), is a quest to get the most out of your investments. Tracking what you have, where it is, and how it’s performing is critical to avoid overspending and securing your IT assets. It also ensures you are arming your workforce with the right tools to get their jobs done. It has been estimated that more than $1 billion could be saved in information technology and telecommunications, per year, across the federal government if best practices were applied.** So the question still lingers, why are we not doing more to track maintain and secure our countries IT assets?

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