Google barred from US$60m Government cloud deal

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Google barred from US$60m Government cloud deal

Deemed not secure enough.

Google has filed a complaint in the US Court of Federal Claims against the US Department of the Interior (DOI) for allegedly barring it from bidding for a US$60 million cloud contract due to security concerns. 

The DOI had allegedly invoked a "Limited Source Justification" procurement clause, which according to Google, meant that only Microsoft could bid for the work with its Business Productivity Online Standard (BPOS)-Federal platform. 

The clause permits an agency to bypass usual competitive processes without requiring an explanation as to whether national security may be put at risk by doing so. 

Google has sought a permanent injunction against the department's request for quote (RFQ) process - which began in 2009 - until the DOI complied with government procurement and competition laws.

The online advertising giant said the RFQ amounted to "sole-source procurement that is arbitrary and capricious". 

According to the complaint, the DOI's chief technology officer William Corrington had in April this year told Google that "a path forward had already been chosen" and that Google Apps failed to meet its security requirements. 

Google alleged that the DOI declined to define its security requirements, leaving the company unable to address questions over its security. 

In meetings held in May, Google alleged senior DOI personnel had concerns over whether the agency could operate the underlying infrastructure of Google Apps. 

Google claimed that its Government-only Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certified Apps could address all the department's concerns. But it said that such apps could only run on a "logically separate" network. 

By June 2010. Google staff were hearing "rumours" that the DOI had already decided to migrate to Microsoft's cloud platform, which it pointed out was yet to gain the same security accreditation. 

Google went on to highlight that Microsoft "topped a list of 12 providers" for the number of vulnerabilities that needed patching, whereas Google had none, and drew attention to the four day outage that Microsoft's BPOS platform suffered earlier this year while it was conducting a network upgrade. 

According to Information Week, Google had made a similar complaint over the state of California's decision to award a US$50 million cloud email contract to Microsoft and services company, CSC.  

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