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.


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