Google claims in lawsuit that Interior contract's terms favored Microsoft
Google has filed a lawsuit against the Interior Department claiming that the agency favored competitor Microsoft when considering bids for a new Web-based e-mail system.
In an action filed with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on Friday, Google asked the court to halt the Interior Department’s bidding process, which it says is designed in a way that guarantees Microsoft would win the contract.
The project is worth an estimated $59 million over five years, according to the suit. The Tech Dirt blog reported on the lawsuit earlier Monday.
“Google is a proponent of open competition on the Internet and in the technology sector in general,” a Google spokesman said. “Here, a fair and open process could save U.S. taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and result in better services. We’re asking the Department of Interior to allow for a true competition when selecting its technology providers.”
Google’s lawsuit comes as the Mountain View,Calif.-based search giant faces increased scrutiny from federal lawmakers and regulators over a host of issues ranging from antitrust to the privacy of online users’ data.
In its lawsuit, Google pointed to bidding guidelines that call for including Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite in the project. Google called the requirement “unduly restrictive of competition.”
An Interior Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Microsoft representative could not be reached for comment.
Google’s suit underscores the fierce competition between Google and Microsoft to sell Internet-based software to local and federal governments. The firms tout the ease of accessing e-mail and other applications through an Web browser and promise greater efficiency and lower costs over the long run.
According to Google’s lawsuit, the contested Interior Department contract is designed to bring onto one standard computing platform roughly 88,000 agency employees who currently use 13 different e-mail systems.
Some government agencies that already use Microsoft’s popular Office suite of applications have been reluctant to switch to competitor Google, citing security concerns. Google has dismissed those concerns, saying that its applications are secure.
| November 1, 2010; 9:00 PM ET
Categories: Antitrust, Google
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