Google calls govt anticompetitive (yes, that's the right way round)

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Google is suing the US Department of the Interior, saying it shouldn't have made up its mind in advance that it wanted a messaging solution based on Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite.

Google is suing the US Department of the Interior, saying it shouldn't have made up its mind in advance that it wanted a messaging solution based on Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite.

The DOI is looking to replace its current 13 messaging systems with a single platform for email and collaboration in a five-year contract covering 88,000 employees that's expected to be worth $59 million.

But by specifying that the solution needed to be based on the Microsoft software, Google says the DOI locked it out of the bidding process.And so, for once, it's Google complaining that the government's behaviour is anti-competitive, rather than the other way round.

"Google representatives made numerous attempts to engage DOI in substantive discussions regarding the technical and cost-saving benefits of the Google Apps solution for DOI's messaging requirements," the complaint reads.

"Notwithstanding Google's efforts and DOI's assurances to Google representatives that DOI would conduct a full and open competition for its messaging requirements, the RFQ [request for quotation] specified that only the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite-Federal could be proposed."

It calls the specification 'arbitrary and capricious, and abuse of discretion, and otherwise contrary to law'.

In June last year, the company attempted to demonstrate to the DOI that Google Apps could satisfy its requirements, but says it was repeatedly fobbed off. While the DOI kept insisting that the contract was up for grabs, Google says it heard persistent rumors that a pilot project was already underway.

Google wants the procurement process to be halted until it's had a chance to make a bid - 'in accordance with applicable law and regulations', it says.

The two companies have been going head to head for months to compete for government cloud contracts. Microsoft recently won in New York; Google has won contracts with the City of Los Angeles and the State of Wyoming.