Google sues US govt dept over ‘anti-competitive behaviour’

2 Nov 2010

Google has filed a lawsuit against the US Department of the Interior (DOI) for anti-competitive behaviour, saying it did not give Google Apps a chance when considering a web document solution.

Techdirt found a 37-page document, which said the DOI issued a Request for Quotation (RFQ), in order to get one hosted email and collaboration services solution for its 88,000-strong staff.

The RFQ specifically stated they only wanted solutions based on Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite-Federal.

This was based on “Limited Source Justification,” where the DOI considered that two elements of Microsoft’s software were “critical” to their implementation of a secure system.

Before knowing this, Google had approached the DOI, where they attempted to offer Google Apps as a solution that would be in line with the government’s security requirements.

The DOI ignored these requests and Google were informed of the restriction.

In a letter sent to the DOI in May 2010, Google claimed the DOI had “no factual evidence” to support that Google Apps does not allow solutions on a multi-tenant architecture and cited the Competition in Contracting Act, which “imposes a duty” on agencies to solicit proposals that encourage competition.

“The pending Microsoft-based requirements bear no rational relationship to the DOI’s needs and unfairly preclude Google Apps product or any other competitive or innovative software product,” said Michael Lock, vice-president of Google’s Enterprise Sales in the letter.

Google has filed this suit to force the DOI to remove the Microsoft software requirement from its RFQ.

While it is unclear whether the DOI’s restriction was justified or not, if Google succeeds in this case, it could not only provide its software solutions to the numerous staff within the DOI, but would ensure that no other US government department could impose a brand-specific requirement in their RFQs in future.