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Google Sues US Gov't For Only Considering Microsoft 407

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-not-pass-go dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Late last week, Google sued the US government for putting out a Request For Quotation for the messaging needs of the Department of the Interior that specified only Microsoft solutions would be considered. Google apparently had spent plenty of time talking to DOI officials to understand their needs and make sure they had a solution ready to go — and were promised that there wasn't a deal already in place with Microsoft. And then the RFQ came out. Google protested, but the protest was dismissed, with the claim that Google was 'not an interested party.'"
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Google Sues US Gov't For Only Considering Microsoft

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  • Smart Move? (Score:3, Informative)

    by alphatel (1450715) * on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:20PM (#34094088)
    It's one of those bureaucratic loopholes. Without the GSA schedule and number, you can be dismissed from any offering regardless of how much time you put in. Did they really not have one? Almost seems like a bad oversight.

    Honestly though, even if they did can they really think that suing the gov't over some minor app is going to win tons of dollars and contracts? Every spec can be written in the future in such a way to exclude a companies abilities ad infinitum.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      No kidding. If your goal is to pick Office over Google Docs, you can list about a thousand things Office does that GD doesn't.

      Probably an easy 90% of those are features the government doesn't even care about, but certainly they can still demand them.

      Reading the links, it really seems like the person at Google in charge of this didn't have a lot of experience with the realities of government contract bidding.

      • Re:Smart Move? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Pojut (1027544) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:27PM (#34094170) Homepage

        Government contract work is INSANE. One of my wife's relatives works in the field (writing up contracts between the US government and other companies), and based on the little I've talked to him about it, it sounds crazy complicated. I'd rather learn about the tax code instead of government contracts.

        • Re:Smart Move? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Zocalo (252965) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:45PM (#34094430) Homepage
          No kidding. I'm currently working on part of the delivery of a $1b+ tender where a dimension is specified to not exceed a given length to an accuracy of 0.5mm. This is on a device that is over 5 meters in length. Gaming the list of potential bidders/suppliers? That would be unethical, and also illegal in many jurisdictions. Stating your requirements with a high degree of precision? Nothing wrong with that!

          People who write these kinds of things are well aware of what they can and can't do or say and still have no problems in making sure that their preferred supplier wins the contract without breaching the letter of the law. The spirit of the law, on the other hand, was declared dead a long time ago.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bleckywelcky (518520)

            Um, what if you need your part to be precisely 5 meters +/- 0.0005 m?

        • by h00manist (800926)
          They do have to legally outwit millions of "businesspeople" who are just constantly scheming on how to get a ton of contracts with no saleswork, and delivering as little product and labor as possible. Patriotism and ideology and help-your-country-and-community usually goes out the window fast, when people are talking about work, bills, responsibilities, profits, money, etc.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nschubach (922175)

        you can list about a thousand things Office does that GD doesn't.

        They did list things:

        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."

        And Google responded to those:

        Google disputes this (not surprisingly) and notes various problems with Microsoft solutions -- including well reported downtime issues.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by h4rr4r (612664)

          unified/consolidated email
          Lots of ways to do that

          enhanced security."
          This clearly indicates bribery, no one hears "Microsoft" and thinks enhanced security.

          • by Svartalf (2997)

            Got it in one. The explicit requiring of Microsoft's products pretty much goes beyond the typical stretching of the rules and stacking of the deck- in a way, I'm pretty sure of, they're not supposed to do in the first place.

            • Re:Smart Move? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by erroneus (253617) on Monday November 01, 2010 @06:08PM (#34095476) Homepage

              You would be correct in that assumption. The very existence of AMD in its present *Intel Competitor* form was born of the requirement of the government to be able to select among at least two providers. At the moment, there isn't a *Windows competitor" in the sense that it is compatible... there was, but OS/2 was killed through underhanded bundling deals and the like.

              It is beyond time that the government is called to task on the way it follows its own rules.

          • Re:Smart Move? (Score:4, Informative)

            by metamatic (202216) on Monday November 01, 2010 @05:45PM (#34095168) Homepage Journal

            This clearly indicates bribery, no one hears "Microsoft" and thinks enhanced security.

            Does Google's professional mail solution support S/MIME? Gmail doesn't, and it's a gaping hole in their messaging offering when compared to pretty much any popular messaging application on the market.

            • Re:Smart Move? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by imlepid (214300) <kkinkaid@imleTWAINpid.com minus author> on Monday November 01, 2010 @06:34PM (#34095814)

              This clearly indicates bribery, no one hears "Microsoft" and thinks enhanced security.

              Does Google's professional mail solution support S/MIME? Gmail doesn't, and it's a gaping hole in their messaging offering when compared to pretty much any popular messaging application on the market.

              Disclaimer: I work for USGS/DOI.

              Yes, that amongst other things. One big aspect of any federal government purchase is the requirement of encryption, and not just any encryption, but FIPS 140-2 compliant encryption systems. As far as I know, Gmail does not support that, while Exchange does.

              What's more, about 1/2 the DOI has an MS Exchange-based email system, while the other have (at least the few bureaus that I know of) use a Lotus Notes-based system. So, the idea with this transition is to merge into one solution with the assumption it will be cheaper. (Will it be cheaper? Who knows...)

              From what I understand, the Networx transition in DOI underwent a similar problem where the contract was awarded to the incumbent (Verizon) and this resulted in protests.

              Overall I like FIPS 140-2 because it means I'm less likely to be sold a snake-oil security product, although it drives up costs inordinately. One example: I just purchased 5 2GB USB drives, for $250. The FIPS compliant price $50/unit where an off-the-shelf USB drive costs ~$8.

              All things told, I would love to have a Gmail solution, but until they get FIPS 140-2 compliance, I'm stuck with MS Exchange...sad though it may be.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by HungryHobo (1314109)

                Some snake oil still gets through....
                http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/01/fips_140-2_leve.html [schneier.com]

                I'm curious about the USB drives.
                Are there no software encryption systems which are FIPS compliant?
                or is this a case of requiring hardware which forces the user to encrypt properly rather than merely allowing them to encrypt properly.

              • Re:Smart Move? (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Fnord666 (889225) on Monday November 01, 2010 @09:43PM (#34097278) Journal

                All things told, I would love to have a Gmail solution, but until they get FIPS 140-2 compliance, I'm stuck with MS Exchange...sad though it may be.

                If you are waiting for gmail to support any sort of encryption, don't hold your breath. Google has a very vested interest in being able to scan and catalog every single piece of mail that flows through their system. Never forget why gmail was created. Google doesn't do it to be a good netizen. In the end it's all about money, and having email traffic that they cannot read doesn't make them any.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Kumiorava (95318)

                The issue that Google has wasn't about any particular feature that is required. I'm pretty sure that FIPS 140-2 (if it was a requirement) would be implemented for any Google product if at all possible. Main issue is the requirement to use Microsoft BPOS-Federal product as the basis of the service.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by janeuner (815461)

                The only thing that FIPS 140-2 implies is that someone in marketing figured out that by using the correct algorithms, they can sell crap products to the government. Congratulations - you just screwed the public for $210 for a flash drive that is no more secure than commercial grade sticks and a copy of TrueCrypt (which uses FIPS 140-2 compliant algorithms, no less)

                But hey, why should you care? Enjoy your job security.

            • Re:Smart Move? (Score:5, Informative)

              by dondelelcaro (81997) <don@donarmstrong.com> on Monday November 01, 2010 @08:02PM (#34096646) Homepage Journal

              Gmail doesn't [support S/MIME], and it's a gaping hole in their messaging offering when compared to pretty much any popular messaging application on the market.

              There are various client-side plugins which support S/MIME for Gmail (which is actually the right place to do it). See Gmail S/MIME [mozilla.org] and other similar plugins.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Zak3056 (69287)

          Google disputes this (not surprisingly) and notes various problems with Microsoft solutions -- including well reported downtime issues.

          What "well reported downtime issues?"

          My Exchange boxes haven't had any significant downtime (outside of scheduled maintenance windows) in the last six years--and that includes the time we migrated all the users into a new forest! Granted, this started as a very small domain of only ~100 users, but for the last 18 months (as a result of the above mentioned forest move) we've

    • Eheh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:27PM (#34094174) Journal

      So basically, your approach would be to let your direct competitor AND arch enemy get away with their corruption and greed and walk all over you for fear that they might walk all over you again with their corruption and greed.

      Your message: Don't fight the status quo because if you don't things will remain the same...

      Really, grow a spine, it is all the rage these days.

      Asking for a MS only solution in an open bid is NOT an open bid. If I make an open bid for cars as long as they are made by ford, then it is not open. And governments should NOT do this kind of job unless they want the outraged citizens to march to the capitol and... oooh Idols is on.

      • Re:Eheh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rabbit994 (686936) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:38PM (#34094334)

        It's an open bid as in, anyone can offer a solution, it just must be Exchange based.

        • Re:Eheh (Score:4, Insightful)

          by nschubach (922175) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:43PM (#34094410) Journal

          To take his car analogy to the next level... it's like the government putting out a req. for cars using only Ford Engines.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          In my experience Exchange is not the solution to anything.
          • by rabbit994 (686936)

            What are your other options? Lotus Notes which is worse then Exchange, Groupwise which require a Novell environment I doubt they have and Google Apps which may not work in their environment.

            • Re:Eheh (Score:5, Informative)

              by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday November 01, 2010 @05:05PM (#34094714)

              You left out a lot:
              Zimbra
              Zafara
              OpenXchange(that one I know sucks)
              Scalix
              the list goes on and on.

            • Re:Eheh (Score:4, Interesting)

              by mdm-adph (1030332) <[mdmadph] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday November 01, 2010 @05:16PM (#34094840) Homepage

              Google Apps may not work in their environment? So, they don't have web browsers?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            That just means that you're not using enough of it. ~

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CastrTroy (595695)
        On the other hand, going with the status quo can sometimes be the better option. I know people who were working part time in the government, who had to compete for their own job. When their temporary job was moved to a permanent job, they couldn't just have the job. They had to compete against everyone else, even people they had been working with the whole time for the job they were already doing. It wasn't alright to just hire someone who was already doing the job perfectly well, and would require no tr
    • Re:Smart Move? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jlechem (613317) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:32PM (#34094250) Homepage Journal
      Verbal contracts are all well and good but unless they have a DUNS and register with the CCR, and use those to get on the schedule the DoD can pretty much give them the finger and they have no recourse. Sounds like someone at Google didn't do their homework on getting DoD jobs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Svartalf (2997)

        There's also a requirement to have a PRODUCT that could be put into the Schedule to begin with. I'm pretty sure they've got a DUNS number at the least (Most major corps typically have one.) and the rest is easy.

        Don't seize on what the GSA did for a reason for refusal here. I'm strongly suspecting that they were finding out what they needed to do to possibly get the business before they went and did the rest- because they'd have had to.

        No, there's an issue there. It's called an EXPLICITLY CLOSED contract

    • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:33PM (#34094260)

      It's one of those bureaucratic loopholes. Without the GSA schedule and number, you can be dismissed from any offering regardless of how much time you put in. Did they really not have one? Almost seems like a bad oversight.

      If they had been using their "magic wifi gathering devices" they surely could have picked one up somewhere.

    • Re:Smart Move? (Score:5, Informative)

      by bytestorm (1296659) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:41PM (#34094370)
      A plaintiff company Onix apparently does have a GSA Schedule 70 and provides solutions based on google docs. Since they (google) are not providing the service directly, however, they shouldn't need one. According to the complaint, the companies have been courting this since june 2009, so there was plenty of time to get one if they needed it. The deal is that when the RFQ went out, it was specifically worded such that google docs were not a usable cloud platform, even though google docs is FISMA certified, which was the DOI's primary complaint to them in the first place (or so they claim in the filing).
  • How is this any different than granting no-bid contracts granted to companies for rebuilding infrastructure or working the oil fields in Iraq? Isn't a no-bid contract the same thing as saying they are considering a single company?

    • by canajin56 (660655) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:31PM (#34094228)
      It's not at all the same. In a no-bid contract, they just award the contract to Microsoft. Here they had a bid! It's just that one of the requirements is that the bidder be Microsoft! TOTALLY DIFFERENT.
      • by clone53421 (1310749) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:38PM (#34094340) Journal

        They aren’t restricting the bidding to only Microsoft... third-party contractors could bid on it as long as they were going to use Microsoft’s products.

        Basically, they’re trying to avoid taking the low bid and then at the end of the contract finding out that all of the workstations are running some free flavour of Linux that isn’t supported and none of their employees know how to use. It’s reasonable from that perspective, although cutting Google out of the mix probably still wasn’t really the smartest move.

    • by Eggplant62 (120514) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:40PM (#34094358)

      Which certainly isn't considering all options. A Microsoft only option leaves out a huge portion of the market that might be able to come up with a cost savings and a more secure solution using a free software infrastructure. How is it good for the economy and the U.S. as a nation sticking with a single vendor?

  • In related news- Google CEO Eric Schmidt was found boxing the deathstar late saturday night. Schmidt had apparently had one too many candy corn flavored schnapps.
  • by genfail (777943)
    It defeats the whole purpose of a bidding system to state that only one company will be considered for bidding. I might be wrong here but I'm pretty sure that's illegal. Which is probably why they are suing.
    • by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:36PM (#34094308) Homepage

      This is what happens when you have a monopoly like the Department of the Interior. I think it's about time one of us started a department to compete with them and keep them honest.

    • Sadly, it probably isn't, but it certainly should be. The least they could have done is specify require tailored to a known MS product, but no, they couldn't even be bothered to do that and skipped right to the 'only company X need apply'.
    • by afidel (530433) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:42PM (#34094392)
      It depends. A perfectly reasonable RFP could include things that only lead to one technology being considered. For instance I have a VMWare cluster that uses Intel 5500 and 5600 CPU's, if I needed additional capacity without impacting my existing cluster I could write and RFP that stated that Intel 5500 and above parts which work with VMWare EVC (function masking) with my existing cluster be used. This would specify that Intel CPU's be used but would allow bidding from Dell, HP, Cisco, IBM, and Oracle and their resellers. I see nothing fundamentally wrong with such an RFP, but then I work in the private sector where picking the best technology for our needs is not only legal but often mandatory.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        That again depends on how many machines you have, it may be more cost effective to switch everything over to AMD $hypothetical_CPU. Not accepting bids that fulfill the requirements, which would be too increase the capacity of your VMware environment, would be foolish.

        • it may be more cost effective to switch everything over to AMD $hypothetical_CPU

          That’s not how governments operate, though. You can’t roll a decision like that into an unrelated contract. You have to hire an expensive consultant and pay millions of dollars to even consider switching everything over to AMD $hypothetical_CPU, and at that point it’s hardly cost-effective any more.

          I say that with my tongue only halfway in cheek.

        • by afidel (530433)
          Uh, except it requires downtime to move between platforms so in most environments that would not be an acceptable solution =)
    • by Zocalo (252965)
      Not necessarily, it would depend on the precise wording of the ITT and who the likely bidders are. Typically for this kind of tender the respondents would be Microsoft's gold partners rather than Microsoft themselves, although it is likely that Microsoft would be very closely involved with the actual delivery on a tender of this size. Legally, asking for "an email system" in a tender is just as legitimate as asking for "a Microsoft Exchange/Outlook based email system", especially if you already have a req
  • by rsborg (111459) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:30PM (#34094214) Homepage

    Thanks to years of being "open for business"... probably not starting with, but vastly increasing during the Bush W Administration (and not being brought back under control with Obama admin), the Department of the Interior has been almost thoroughly corrupted and captured [hcn.org].

    It's not surprising that they are the target of lawsuit... what's sad is that they aren't sued by regular citizens for abdication of their purpose in search of bribes and kickbacks from Industry.

    I wish Google best of luck in turning the stone on this cockroach-infested den of iniquity.

    • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:34PM (#34094272)

      They were corrupt under Reagan, Bush and Clinton too.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobell_v._Kempthorne [wikipedia.org] for one.

      • by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:51PM (#34094516) Journal

        All bureaucracies are inherently corrupt, which is why you need regular change. A bureaucrat's first and primary goal is to keep their job and benefits. There is no requirement or reward to be efficient, effective, considerate or frugal. After all, it isn't their money they are spending.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by h00manist (800926)

          All bureaucracies are inherently corrupt, which is why you need regular change. A bureaucrat's first and primary goal is to keep their job and benefits. There is no requirement or reward to be efficient, effective, considerate or frugal. After all, it isn't their money they are spending.

          All kinds of people enjoy waste and freewheeling. Government money is the largest source. But boss, compnay, NGO and even family money gets abused all the time too. There is really only one place for decency or lack thereof. In minds are hearts. And only one way to really reduce it from there, education. Prosecution makes people think twice sometimes, but doesn't really change who they are. Legislation and lawsuits and punishment just create even more social confusion, just visit some courts and lawsu

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by js_sebastian (946118)

            All kinds of people enjoy waste and freewheeling. Government money is the largest source. But boss, compnay, NGO and even family money gets abused all the time too. There is really only one place for decency or lack thereof. In minds are hearts. And only one way to really reduce it from there, education. Prosecution makes people think twice sometimes, but doesn't really change who they are. Legislation and lawsuits and punishment just create even more social confusion, just visit some courts and lawsuits and you will see it offerts no real decency and solutions to society.

            An article recently discussed on schneier's blog (http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/11/control_fraud.html) argues otherwise... That under-deterrence creates an environment where corruption can become systemic and that regulatory frameworks need to be designed keeping in mind the possibility of fraud at the highest levels, and optimized to reduce it, rather than be designed based on economic models that wish corruption away as a market inefficiency that is somehow automagically eliminated by free ma

      • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:52PM (#34094526) Homepage

        And before that, they were tasked primarily with exploitation (rather than a mix of exploitation and protection) of resources, so there was really no question of any sort of bribery or corruption, unless you counted your Uncle Willy giving you preferential hiring as a park ranger because you were a good party member and his nephew. If you were an industry back then, you just signed a lease at the going price (which was even more ridiculously small than today's lease prices), and you got what was on/under the land.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bob9113 (14996)

      It's not surprising that they are the target of lawsuit... what's sad is that they aren't sued by regular citizens for abdication of their purpose in search of bribes and kickbacks from Industry.

      I think a big part of the problem here is the very narrow definition of "standing". The United States court system currently does not hold that being a citizen is standing in itself regarding government activities. I can't point to specific cases regarding corruption, but two good cases to look at to frame the quest

  • It is pretty amusing, because I have repeatedly seen government (and corporate) IT talk about avoiding Macs because they are a Single Source Solution: you can't buy Macs from anyone but Apple, so you are locked into dealing with only one vendor. Then these same people would turn around and specify Microsoft Windows solutions. Precisely how many vendors do they think make Microsoft Windows?

    If any of these people were honestly interested in avoiding vendor lock-in, they would require that all solutions be fre

    • by jimicus (737525)

      Actually, I can see some (albeit twisted) logic.

      You can run Windows on any old hardware, and if Microsoft were to cease to exist tomorrow, you could continue to install Windows on new hardware. Sure, you'd have to look to migrate off Windows sooner or later but - and here is the big but - you wouldn't be essentially forced to before you start to see hardware failing around your ears. Not so OS X - if Apple were to cease to exist tomorrow, you'd find yourself stuck.

      Less of an issue today now that Macs run

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:32PM (#34094232) Homepage Journal

    The Interior Department was the most corrupt department (that we know of) during the Bush/Cheney administration. It was the main feeding grounds for Jack Abramoff [wikipedia.org], centered on using Indian tribes to grab casino industry money. It was the Interior Department's MMS [denverpost.com] office that traded favors to oil corps for coke and hookers, then let BP drill the Gulf despite its obvious contempt for safety, and let it slide through the resulting Macondo Well blowout through this Summer.

    "Most corrupt department" was the hardest fought competition this whole decade, and it's clearly continued even after Bush/Cheney left. I am not at all surprised that the Interior Department is in bed with another monopoly disserving the people it's supposed to protect.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      "Most corrupt department" was the hardest fought competition this whole decade, and it's clearly continued even after Bush/Cheney left. I am not at all surprised that the Interior Department is in bed with another monopoly disserving the people it's supposed to protect.

      OT, but of course it has. You don't honestly think all those government mandarins who have spent decades empire building are going to give it all up and change their MO altogether just because someone else is warming the seat in the oval office?

      FFI, watch "Yes, Minister" and "Yes, Prime Minister".

    • "Most corrupt department" was the hardest fought competition this whole decade.

      Hmm. Well, at least there was competition, wasn't there? I mean, surely somewhere an RFP was issued for that.
  • by Myopic (18616) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:32PM (#34094234)

    I couldn't visualize it from the description, but this video shows how it works

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UesbkO3NvoY [youtube.com]

    Pretty crazy. It'll come down to whether they can actually make something like that reliable.

  • Vendors (Score:3, Informative)

    by HogGeek (456673) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:37PM (#34094320)

    A lot of discussion on "How come only Microsoft".

    While I agree it's not "competitive", I think they are looking for bids on hosting a Microsoft based solution - not Microsoft, the company, providing the hosting

    • I don't think that really makes it much better. Either way, they're favoring a specific company rather than requesting specific functionality.

      • In this case, both are the same thing. Unless Google Docs is an Exchange-based solution. A high level of interoperability with a million existing government systems effectively mandates that.

        Unless we've decided it's okay if the government is hopelessly inefficient, as long as they're wasting money on Google products?

  • I certainly have to laugh at the timing of this move. I pondered a moment how effective a call to my elected officials might be at midterm election time, then said to myself, "FUUUUUUUUUU...."

  • Good! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OhHellWithIt (756826) * on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:38PM (#34094338) Journal

    Been there, done that. One of my former employers essentially bet the company on a federal RFP that was seeking POSIX compliance on diskless workstations. We worked our butts off to develop a solution using SCO Unix (back in the days before SCO decided to go into litigation as a business model), but even though it met all the requirements, the contract was awarded to the incumbent, who bid Windows NT -- with some kind of POSIX plug-in. We protested (the loser always protests), but we lost. Maybe it'll turn out better for a deep-pocketed company like Google.

  • I am wondering if anyone knows just how much money the federal goverment sends to Microsoft each year.. There has got to be somewhere I can easily find this information. And while I am at, how about for any corporation?

    I would love to see the Top 10 Fed supported companies.

  • There is less and less reason to believe in Google as a company. It doesn't seem like anything was signed.

    Google was not an interested party

    DOI forgot to s/interested/interesting/ to lessen the blow to Google. The government's fault was in creating rage and adding gas to that fire... I'd be angry too if an prospective employer pulled the same thing off in a job offer, daring to say I wasn't an interested party, though I went to their interview.

    But just like my example, in most of the United States, a plaintiff with no signed agreement has

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:55PM (#34094556)
    It seems pretty clear that the Governments primary objection was to the fact that the servers providing service would have to be run by Google instead of by the government. Google simply said "you don't need to have the servers on site to be secure, don't worry about it!" I'm not sure that the RFQ was done correctly, but their true concerns are valid. I wouldn't want any government services hosted in anyones cloud, the chance for abuse is huge.
  • Go Google (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sosaited (1925622)

    This is probably the only lawsuit I read about on Slashdot that I am going to support. Well done Google. And DOI must be lacking some sense these days to call it RFQ when they specified they will only consider bids from one company.

  • by kenh (9056) on Monday November 01, 2010 @07:01PM (#34096100) Homepage Journal

    How many people have firm opinions that the government did something wrong here - show of hands please?

    How many people know the differences between an RFQ, RFP, and an IFB? Why did so many hands go down?

    Seriously, an RFQ is a tool to arrive at market price for a defined solution, and it is non-binding.

    An RFP is a request for respondents to define a solution, the Gov't is open to various solutions.

    And an IFB is an Invitation To Bid - this is where the Gov't picks a vendor for a defined solution based on price.

    Every response i see here has these three different documents conflated... I suggest you look here for guidance:

    http://www.onvia.com/b2g-resources/article/responding-to-an-ifb-rfp-rfq-do-you-know-the-difference [onvia.com]

  • by spopepro (1302967) on Monday November 01, 2010 @07:19PM (#34096290)
    I was starting to reply to a bunch of comments, but figured I'd just start anew since the misunderstandings are widespread. It seems like very few here have experience with public sector RFPs and RFQs. Even if you worked for a company that has submitted responses I wouldn't be surprised if you got it wrong. We (school district) just canceled because all 10 vendors were non-responsive by not reading and answering the requirements.

    You write up an RFP when you know your problem and you need a solution. Language often specifies a technology, but allows for equivalent substitutions. Protests often happen over debate of what qualifies as equivalent, but if the DOI was looking for a solution, they would write an RFP.

    But they weren't looking for a solution, they were looking for a vendor, and already knew what solution they wanted. That's when you write an RFQ, specify exactly the technology you want and then let everyone submit pricing. The disadvantage is that you have to choose the low quotation. In an RFP, you do not have to take the low proposal, even in the public sector.

    So it might feel wrong, but way before the RFQ was even written the DOI determined that they wanted the Microsoft solution and just wanted pricing. Google lost before it even started. Which is probably short sighted by the DOI, but well within the law. As a public sector person who deals with this, it's not easy to get what you know you need at a price you want. Most public entities aren't being corrupt, but like someone else mentioned, the spirit of the law has long been lost and both sides spend inordinate amounts of time and money just trying to game the system. Like the vendor who protested that his 7200rpm SATA drive SAN was equivalent to the 15k SAS version and that he won on price... ugh.

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