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

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….

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