Google Sues The US Government For Only Considering Microsoft Solutions

from the hubris dept

Eric Goldman alerts us to the interesting bit of news that Google has sued the US government -- specifically the Department of the Interior, for not seriously considering Google Apps when it put out a Request for Quotation (RFQ) to handle its messaging needs. Specifically, the DOI stated upfront in the RFQ that the solution had to be part of the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite. Google is making the argument that this is "unduly restrictive of competition," and it seems like they've got a decent argument there.

Most of the lawsuit details the history of meetings and conversations between Google and the DOI, where Google sought to convince the DOI that its solution was acceptable. The DOI justified limiting its offerings to Microsoft, by saying that Microsoft had two things that other solution providers did not: unified/consolidated email and "enhanced security." Google disputes this (not surprisingly) and notes various problems with Microsoft solutions -- including well reported downtime issues. Google protested the RFQ when it was released, but the GAO dismissed Google's protest saying that since Google does not have a GSA schedule contract (i.e., what you need to sell to the gov't), it was "not an interested party." Anyway, should make for an interesting lawsuit if it goes anywhere...

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2010 @ 10:11am

    Re: Us Government deals

    I used to work for the US Gov (mid level civilian engineer for one of the military branches). 75% of the contracts (that I had insight on) were decided before the RFP was drafted.

    - The contracts always had requirements that were worded specifically with one vendor in mind (this MS case is a good example - maybe a bit too good)
    - The RFPs that are "designated" for a specific vendor always had very short windows. (unless you already had a response ready there is no way you could even gather info in time to respond)
    - Pricing was agreed to beforehand so that it could be used to justify the targeted contractor (if you bid too high or too low they could use that as a tie breaker in case you got close in the rest of your requirements)

    As far as I know these shortcuts were taken in the interest of hurrying a project along... and largely because the intended contractor was a known entity. If an underachieving contractor won a bid it was a HUGE headache for both our schedule and budget.

    What always made me the most angry was when hiring was done via the same process. Usually people got hired to the GS world only after their performance was vetted as a contractor. If management liked someone's performance as a contractor they would steal them away by writing a vague job announcement that had ridiculous requirements for exact words/phrases in CVs (then the requirements would be handed over to the applicant).

    It was always done in a manner where it would be your word against theirs if you wanted to turn someone in. Never in email, never over the phone, nothing incriminating on paper.

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