Lately, Google has been the one in legal trouble, but for once the tables have turned. On Monday, the company filed a lawsuit against the federal government for deferring to Microsoft Office BPOS-Federal without allowing it to properly pitch Google Apps for Government. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Google is accusing the US government of specifically excluding it from considerations, stating this is “unduly restrictive of competition.”
Google has been trying to break into the government and institution market, where Microsoft has a stronghold. And what better way than to get in good with the US government? But upon Google’s request for specs on the system needs of the Department of the Interior (DOI), it was told that only Microsoft’s BPOS-Federal (created specifically for US government solutions) would fulfill its requirements – and the Internet giant is taking issue with that.
The DOI insisted its reasons for passing on Google Apps was the lack of security, something Microsoft was able to supply. To this, Google argues the department’s decision was based on tunnel vision, and that it was never going to consider anything besides Microsoft. Google also alleges that Microsoft’s BPOS-Federal is simply less effective than Google Apps for Government, according to the DOI’s standards, citing its competitor’s outages and failure to pass previously required security measures. The lawsuit states, “Given the DOI’s requirements…Microsoft’s outages this year cast doubt on whether the BPOS-Federal solution will satisfy all of DOI’s requirements.”
To make things more suspect, it seems as though the DOI’s requirements have morphed and are precisely tailored to fit Microsoft’s product alone.
If all things go Google’s way, it will be granted an injunction on the current agreement being formed between the DOI and Microsoft, and it will be allowed to fairly enter the bidding war for the contract. But this could go either way, seeing as Google only became accredited by the General Services Administration and Federal Information Security Management Act five months ago.
And to add a little amusement to the whole mess, TechCrunch has dug up a press release President Obama made in 2009 regarding this very issue. The statement directs the DOI to avoid “Excessive reliance by executive agencies on sole-source contracts (or contracts with a limited number of sources)…”, which seems a lot like what this Microsoft deal is doing.