Google gets halt of Microsoft contract with Interior Dept.

Judge says there were deficiencies in the procurement process that led to U.S. government agency preparing to grant $49.3 million contract to Microsoft for e-mail system.

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills
2 min read

A judge has granted Google's request for a temporary court order that puts a freeze on a contract the U.S. Interior Department planned to award to Microsoft for an e-mail system.

U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Susan Braden cited deficiencies in the procurement process for the $49.3 million contract, according to the 27-page court decision unsealed yesterday and reported on by Bloomberg today.

"Without a preliminary injunction, the award will put into motion the final migration of Interior's e-mail system, achieve 'organizational lock-in' for Microsoft, and cost Google the opportunity to compete," the judge wrote. The Interior Department intended to give the contract to Microsoft later this month, she said.

Google sued the Interior Department in October claiming that it was essentially barred from competing for the project because the agency's proposal request specified that only the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite-Federal could be proposed.

The company has made the same complaint about a contract the USDA awarded to Microsoft.

Google executives said they are pleased with the court's decision, according to a statement provided to Bloomberg.

Microsoft provided CNET this statement: "The Department of the Interior determined that the dedicated, U.S.-based cloud solution offered by Microsoft met its minimum security and other requirements after a careful and thorough evaluation, and that Google's solution did not. The judge's decision does not address this fundamental determination. We believe the full record will demonstrate that this award is in the best interest of the government and taxpayers. Microsoft can't publicly comment further due to its ongoing relationship with DOI."

A spokeswoman for the Interior Department said she could not comment on ongoing litigation.

Google and Microsoft are in a heated battle over government and other contracts for tech services as agencies and businesses increasingly move to cloud-based systems to save money and create efficiencies.