Google sues U.S. government over hosted e-mail bid against Microsoft

Google sues U.S. government over hosted e-mail bid against Microsoft

Summary: Google is suing the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) over a bid for a new hosted e-mail system which Google claims unfairly benefits Microsoft.

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Google is suing the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) over a bid for a new hosted e-mail system which Google claims unfairly benefits Microsoft.

The suit, filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on October 29, calls out the DOI for not considering Google Apps in its Request for Quotation (RFQ). The DOI RFQ specified that the DOI was looking for a new, unified e-mail, calendaring and collaboration solution, but limited the acceptable options to Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) Federal suite only. The contract is worth $49.3 million over five years.

Google is making the argument that this is "unduly restrictive of competition," noted TechDirt, which has a copy of the 37-page complaint embedded on its Web site.

According to the complaint, the DOJ specified that it needed a private-cloud solution for security reasons. BPOS Federal is a dedicated, locked-down version of BPOS that is basically like a privately hosted version of Microsoft's Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Communications Online and Live Meeting. Google Apps for Government is a multi-tenant hosted solution.

The DOI justified its restriction of acceptable products to Microsoft because of Microsoft's unified/consolidated e-mail and enhanced security features. (It sounds like the DOI also was seeking FISMA certification for the solution, which is something Microsoft is promising for BPOS but isn't likely to deliver until some time in 2011 with its Office 365 BPOS successor.)

Google has complained before about being barred from bidding on a government contract against Microsoft. Google complained earlier this year that the state of California blocked the company from being considered in an e-mail system bid. The State ended up awarding the contract to Microsoft and its partner CSC despite Google's objections, and claimed Google was unable to meet its requirements.

I've asked Microsoft for comment on Google's DOI suit. No word back so far....

Related Reading:

Google: Bidding process for California's e-mail contract was designed for Microsoft win

The Inbox War: For Google, Microsoft, the battlegrounds are comfort zones and costs

Topics: Collaboration, CXO, Google, Microsoft, Security

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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210 comments
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  • I can just imagine

    the bidding process software feature requirements are 'ridiculously' skewed in favor of Microsoft.

    That will be the basis of Google's complaint.
    The playing field is NOT level.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • skewed because they define Office workflow?

      What are you on about, MS have a product that has a gazillion features that users are use to. Goverments and companies want products that meet the needs of there workers. And there workers are use to Office features. If google can't deliver office features then they loose out when due dilligence is carried out! Is Google complaining that due dilligence has not been carried out or that the governments are asking for features that there workers are use to having because of there use of office!!

      'Ridiculously skewed' is a stupid thing to say without context!
      liquidboy
      • I just got sued by KIA

        ... b/c I skewed by wish-list for more horse power that only BMW can provide to leave KIA out on cold. Boy, how unfair I have been!! I'm so ashaned of myself.

        Seriously someone gives Google a few Halloween leftover candies please. The baby is crying everyone a river.
        LBiege
      • RE:skewed because they define Office workflow?

        @liquidboy >>>the state of California blocked the company from being considered in an e-mail system bid<<<
        >>>but limited the acceptable options to Microsoft?s Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) Federal suite only.<<<
        It's not a question of the product or the products features. It's a question of being barred from the competition. Google wasn't allowed to submit a bid in either case. Not being allowed to present their product is very much not the same thing as losing because their product didn't measure up! I think you are arguing the wrong point. Sure, you might like Microsoft products, and it sounds like you are very proud of them. But, you didn't invent them, you just bought them. Any idiot can do that!
        richdave
      • RE: Google sues U.S. government over hosted e-mail bid against Microsoft

        @richdave "...It's not a question of the product or the products features. It's a question of being barred from the competition. Google wasn't allowed to submit a bid in either case..."<br><br>Of course it's about the product and product features. Do you look at all the 24" TVs when you're really looking for a 55" set? If so, you must waste a lot of time.

        Nothing in any bidding process requires that everybody and anybody gets to propose their product - you have to have a conforming product and the organization that puts out the bid request gets to specify what's supporting.<br><br>If you don't have a conforming product - tough.<br><br>Schwin doesn't get to propose a fleet of bicycles for the Army's next RFP for tanks just because that's all they make.
        archangel9999
      • RE: Google sues U.S. government over hosted e-mail bid against Microsoft

        @liquidboy
        FYI...The DoI didn't even review Google Apps according to the official lawsuit. That right there is anti-competitive. That on top of Google Apps already having passed the U.S. Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) screening and is FISMA certified yet BPOS-Federal isn't certified by the US Gov and neither is BPOS-Standard....and don't forget that Microsofts BPOS systems had a HUGE data loss to ALL users back in Aug and Sept yet Google Apps has never lost a single bit of data or had a security break.
        IrishGT
      • RE: Google sues U.S. government over hosted e-mail bid against Microsoft

        @liquidboy

        I hope they have a grammar checker.
        fastoy
      • Can Google meet the bid specs?

        @liquidboy 2 comments. (a) Irrespective of whether the employees like something or not, all the desired features must be included in the bid specs. If Google can meet those specs, it should be able to bid. If Google can demonstrate that DOI wrote the specs so that only MS can meet them, then Google may have legal recourse to do something about that. (b) Since this page does not have spell check, you might think about writing your posts in a word processing program, spell checking them, then cutting and pasting them here as your posts.
        brambeus
      • RE: Google sues U.S. government over hosted e-mail bid against Microsoft

        @liquidboy "have a product that has a gazillion features that users are use to"

        Exactly, a fully bloated productivity suite that threatens the security of the nation. I think more than just Google has legal standing, I'm thinking a class action suit where every citizen and resident join the class because our interests are at risk, at peril with DOI or any essential government agency sticking with the buggy bloatware that MS peddles.
        geotopia1
      • What is "loose out"?

        @liquidboy
        BubbaJones_
      • RE: Google sues U.S. government over hosted e-mail bid against Microsoft

        @liquidboy - Don't know if this has been said but as a Goverment Procurement guy I know of what I write and speak. MS products are the be all and end all. The US Government gave all their power over to third parties. Right now, MS is it. Apple may supplant MS if they can prove certain security provisions. While the Apple OS is more secure MS has granted certain 'private' code that makes the government feel better....even if it's not certified that way it used to be.

        Frankly, I am afraid....very afraid that the US GMOC will fall.
        The Danger is Microsoft
      • RE: Google sues U.S. government over hosted e-mail bid against Microsoft

        @liquidboy
        There is nothing worse than Outlook. It is my most hated application I need to work with. Counterintuitive, Calendar is deeply broken, unbearably slow, no tabs for mail.
        kirovs
      • A good comparison would be employers using selection criteria...

        @liquidboy

        To ensure candidates have the required skills and certifications for the position/s advertised. Do those that do not meet the specified criteria have the right to moan about how they didn't get the chance to interview for the role anyway?? Of course not!

        The DOI had a specific list of requirements and Google was unable to meet those. Simple.
        kaninelupus
    • RE: Google sues U.S. government over hosted e-mail bid against Microsoft

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate
      Its not level because they cant provide the features the goverment wants?? HAHAHAHAHAHA.
      Google could provide what the government wants but there not willing to pay any license/patent fees to thoses who own them. Google could always go out and buy a corporation that has the correct license/patents just like they bough the company that really made Android.
      Stan57
      • RE: Google sues U.S. government over hosted e-mail bid against Microsoft

        @Stan57 Here's one, Be able to SORT your in-box. Not SEARCH, SORT.
        Scubajrr
      • gmail? you've got to be joking

        @Stan57 Here Mr Government - we know best and how about some BUZZ with that? Oh yeah and we'll mine the heck out of the content too to sell to advertisers
        hubivedder
      • First issue. Read the complaint. Then understand.

        @Stan57 <br>DOI sidestepped a crucial requirements gathering step on the messaging piece.<br><br>It wasn't accidental. It was intentional.<br>This will be the basis for Google being rewarded an injunction to stay the bid acceptance process until their case is heard in its entirety and a judgement is made for or against Google.<br><br>Clearly, The rfq process was 'rigged'.<br><br>My money is on Google.
        Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
      • RE: Google sues U.S. government over hosted e-mail bid against Microsoft

        @Stan57 It's very possible that the bid writers have no real idea what they want or need and were told by a salesman what to put in their specs. Happens all the time, especially with government bids. Government could specify that the product have the Microsoft logo all over it, but that's restrictive specification.
        The bid laws are there to promote competition and to give smaller, lesser known but qualified companies a shot at a large contract. If their bid doesn't meet specs at the opening, that's where it can be rejected, not in the spec writing process.
        Papa_Bill
      • RE: Google sues U.S. government over hosted e-mail bid against Microsoft

        @Stan57
        Google say that "DOJ specified that it needed a private-cloud solution for security reasons". Seems pretty simple then. Offer a private cloud solution and you might be considered.

        MS has enough experience with real enterprise that they anticipated this type of requirement, built the necessary software, and have partners who can deliver it using their technology.

        If Google want to play this game, they have to deliver what the customer wants, not expect the customer to adjust requirements to Google's products. Tough, but thats business.
        A.Sinic
      • Of course your money's on Google, DTS

        people like you let your allegiances lead you to make foolish choices.

        Something tells me that Googles's latest actions to force their way onto the public will backfire in court.

        I guess Google's miffed that they can't buy their way into every political process.
        John Zern