updated 04:10 pm EDT, Mon November 1, 2010
Google sues US Interior Dept for Microsoft deals
Google today sued the US Department of the Interior for alleged favoritism in picking Microsoft over others for contracts (document below). The complaint accused the government of automatically ruling out Google Apps and other products by requiring that any solution for its messaging service use the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite, excluding Google entirely. Limiting the choices to Microsoft was "unduly restrictive" and limited competition, the search firm said.
Attorneys for Google argued that the DOI made nebulous justifications for its decision. Officials had asked for a system with "enhanced security" and a unified mail system without checking how well Google Apps or others would meet the standards. The Interior's phrasing of the Request for Quotation even closely matched the marketing material for the cloud versions of Exchange, SharePoint and Office Communications, leading Google to believe that the US agency had defined the project assuming Microsoft would get the contract.
Google had originally tried to protest the contract but was dismissed by the Government Accountability Office as it didn't have a GSA schedule contract and supposedly didn't have a stake.
The lawsuit if successful would force the DOI to honor a more open bidding process and would have an injunction freezing the bid process until Google and others could be involved.
Mounting the legal challenge may test one of Microsoft's typical strongholds for its software business. Although the Obama administration has taken steps to diversify some of the computing platforms allowed in the US government, the majority of software is dominated by Microsoft. Google wouldn't necessarily win the contract if victorious in the suit but could leave the room open for multiple companies and possibly concede some deals to rivals. [via Techdirt]