Google wins: Interior forbidden to award noncompetitive contract to Microsoft

Court finds Interior excluded rival too early

The Interior Department can't  award a noncompetitive contract to Microsoft, a federal judge has ruled. 

U.S. Federal Claims Court Judge Susan Braden ruled on Jan. 3 that negotiations for a sole source contract with Microsoft “commenced many months prior to July 15, 2010,” when department officials decided Microsoft's software was their standard for e-mail and computer operating systems. Meanwhile, Google had been trying to get considered for the work as well.

The contract is a first step in establishing a framework that could result in the department adding more than 80,000 e-mail mailboxes as well as other messaging and collaboration services.

Despite limiting the competition, Interior officials knew Google had the means to do the work and was interested in competing for it, the judge held. By July 22, Interior officials were aware that Google had a government-only version of the Google Apps software and claimed it had obtained the necessary information security certifications, according to the court's decision filed Jan. 4.

“Interior violated the Competition in Contracting Act and relevant [Federal Acquisition Regulation] provisions and that such violation was prejudicial to Google’s interests,” Braden wrote.

Google sued last October, asking for a preliminary injunction on awarding a contract. The company has been frustrated several times in its efforts to compete against Microsoft for cloud offerings.

Braden added that there was no wrongdoing on Microsoft's part, but actions that “show only competitive zeal and interest in customer satisfaction.”

Interior officials declined to comment because the litigation is ongoing. 

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Wed, May 11, 2011 DoD Insider

Time for Google to challenge the sole source Microsoft Email Cloud implemented of DISA/Army that has failed miserably. With only 10k users, the systems is performing horribly and missing all estimated performance estimates developed by Gartner and Mitre. Time to question DoD's decision making process as they begin to revamp IT Acquisition.

Fri, Jan 7, 2011

I think the title and article distorts what the case presented. The Court of Federal Claims essentially ruled that the Agency did not follow FAR requirements in presenting their Sole Source Justifications. They did not have a CO sign the documents and or they did not have the correct approving officials sign off as required by the FAR due to the dollar amount of the contract. The Court expressly stated it did not question or consider the agency’s judgment. In all likelihood if the Justification for Sole Source was followed according to the law Google would have lost (and they still may lose the contract).

Thu, Jan 6, 2011 Washington, DC

Well, I wonder what this will do to USDA's recent award to Microsoft? Google NOW has grounds to appeal that award too...YAH!!!!

Thu, Jan 6, 2011


Thu, Jan 6, 2011 Gboluwaga USA

I agree with the decision of the judge. Although I love Microsoft products, but by having competition, Microsoft will be able to improve the quality of their products.

Show All Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group