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Image: The High Stakes of License Management

License management and the broader imperative to improve IT asset management is challenging for many government agencies, particularly at the state level. 

A recent GovLoop media survey found that agencies at all levels of government continue to fall short of adequately managing software licenses in accordance with the demands of the modern enterprise. The consequences of ineffective license management fall into three main categories: fiscal, security and operational. 


This lack of visibility increases the likelihood that agencies will overpay or underpay for software licenses. Unexposed accounting errors tend to persist, compounding losses over time. 

  • 57 percent of survey respondents affirmed that agencies pay for software no longer in use;  the same percentage of respondents said their organizations have more licenses than are needed 
  • More than 33 percent of respondents said their IT teams don’t track usage or they (survey respondents) don’t know if the IT team does tracking


To appreciate the security risk of inadequately managed software licenses, one only need skim news stories about organizations that fell prey to known vulnerabilities exploited by cyber attackers. Failure to adequately manage IT systems and remediate potential vulnerabilities was. a factor in the attacks—but organizations can’t patch vulnerabilities in software that’s hidden from view.

  • 56 percent of survey respondents indicated their organization is using applications no longer supported by vendors 
  • 44 percent agreed that applications no longer being sold are used in some cases  
  • Another 13 percent reported that end-of-service software is used a lot


Simply put, vendor audits are a routine part of running a modern IT enterprise.  

  • 74 percent of survey respondents reported one or two vendor audits per year 
  • 14 percent reported three or four a year, and 12 percent five or more 
  • Almost 60 percent of respondents said their organization hasn’t recently conducted a license compliance initiative to determine alignment between software licenses and actual software use—or they didn’t know the status of initiatives intended to determine the gap 
  • 54 percent of agencies surveyed have multiple licenses for the same software products in different divisions of the agency

Environments tend to become less neat over time as organizations expand, contract or merge, further complicating license management.  There are new employees, new vendors, new publishers and hardware, as well as the departure of people, vendors, hardware and software licenses. 

Pressure to use some type of automated system to manage licenses is coming from government mandates and the desire to avoid financial losses, security lapses and compromised IT operations. The bottom line: Poor license management is costly. 

The goal is transparency, a 360-degree view of licenses, their usage and their access.  Achieving transparency through automated license management limits errors that inevitably occur when organizations rely on processes manually performed by human workers. 

To learn more, check out our federal software licensing optimization whitepaper.