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Google suit halts Microsoft fed contract

Court order bars Redmond 'lock-in'

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Google has successfully prevented the US Department of the Interior from awarding a $49.3 million email contract to Microsoft. At least temporarily.

Late last year, Google sued the Department of the Interior (DOI), claiming it didn't give Google a fair chance to win a contract to provide email and collaboration services for its roughly 88,000 employees, and as Bloomberg reports, a federal judge has now issued a temporary court order preventing the feds from awarding the contract to Microsoft.

According to Google's suit, when the Department of the Interior floated an RFQ (request for quotation) for a hosted email service last year, it said it would only consider proposals involving the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite. Google claimed that the DOI's decision was "unduly restrictive of competition."

In her 27-page court order, US Court of Federal Claims Judge Susan Braden said: "Without a preliminary injunction, the award will put into motion the final migration of Interior’s e-mail system, achieve ’organizational lock-in’ for Microsoft, and cost Google the opportunity to compete."

Google told us that: “As a proponent of open competition on the Internet and in the technology sector in general, we’re pleased with the court’s decision”. The company is fighting tooth and nail to convince government agencies and businesses to abandon Microsoft's de facto standard office software in favor of its Google Apps, which are entirely web-based.

In its suit, Google said that the DOI expressed concern over Google's ability to meet FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) security requirements and provide an email service whose "underlying infrastructure" is dedicated to the DOI. Google received its FISMA certification last summer, but the company does not offer private infrastructure for customers. Google claimed that this was not required by FISMA and that it did not represent "industry best practice."

But in announcing its FISMA certification, Google also said that with government customers, it will segregate Gmail and Google Calendar data into their own US-only portion of Google's infrastructure. ®

Bootnote

The ultimate irony here is that that the Microsoft setup chosen by the DOI – BPOS Federal – doesn't have FISMA certification...

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