Google Aims To Drop Federal Cloud Lawsuit Against Interior Department

Google has filed a motion to drop its lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior, a suit filed nearly one year ago that claims the federal agency limited the scope of the competitive bidding process for its federal cloud e-mail and collaboration system to favor Microsoft products.

In a motion filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Google's attorney filed a motion to dismiss without prejudice in its case against the Interior Department, noting that the federal agency has agreed to renew its search for a cloud system that will enable Google to fairly compete for the contract.

"Based on the defendant's agreement to update its market research, a process that may include the issuance of a Request for Information, and then conduct a procurement subject to the availability of appropriated funds and in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation in a manner that will not preclude plaintiffs from fairly competing, plaintiffs respectfully move for dismissal of this action without prejudice. Accordingly, pursuant to Rule 41(a)(2) of the Court's Rules, plaintiffs respectfully request that the Court issue an order granting this motion to dismiss plaintiffs' action without prejudice," read Google's September 22 motion to dismiss, which was published by

The Department of the Interior, however, said in its own motion filed the following day, that it did not enter into any agreement with Google or the court.

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"On September 22, 2011, plaintiffs, Google, Inc. and Onix Networking Corporation, filed a motion to withdraw without prejudice. Docket # 113. We do not oppose that motion. However, in that motion, plaintiffs made reference to "defendant"s agreement." Pl. Mot., p. 1. Defendant, the United States, hereby provides notice to the Court that defendant has made no agreement as represented in that motion. Nonetheless, defendant hereby advises the Court that we do not object to plaintiffs’ motion to withdraw without prejudice," the Department's attorney wrote in its response to Google's withdrawal motion, which was also posted by

The request for dismissal comes just weeks after presiding Federal Court Judge Susan Braden gave Google a chance to prove it mettle and show that its cloud computing offerings are secure enough to have been considered by the DOI for its nearly $60 million federal cloud contract, for which it selected Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) Federal. In that ruling, Braden ordered the Interior Department to consult an independent third-party expert who will examine Google's Google Apps for Government cloud e-mail and collaboration offerings. That expert, who was to closely inspect Google's cloud security, was ordered report its findings to the court. It was unclear Wednesday whether that examination and report occurred.

"From the beginning, we've simply asked for the opportunity to compete for the Department of Interior's business," a Google spokesperson told CRN at the time. "We're gratified the court is now giving us the chance to demonstrate how we can save U.S. taxpayers tens of millions of dollars."

Google could not be reached for immediate comment regarding its motion to dismiss the case. Nor could the Department of the Interior or Microsoft.

NEXT: Google, Microsoft Cloud Fight Extends Beyond Lawsuit

The lawsuit was originally filed by Google and Ohio-based reseller Onix Networking against the Interior Department in October 2010 and claimed that the bidding process of the federal agency's cloud e-mail and collaboration system was skewed to favor Microsoft and that Google was not part of a competitive bidding process for the contract. The suit claims the wording of the procurement documents and the DOI's section process for Microsoft's BPOS-Federal cloud offeringss didn't take into consideration Google's Google Apps cloud e-mail and collaboration play. Microsoft is not a party in the lawsuit.

In January, Google won a temporary injunction by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington D.C., which put the brakes on the five-year contract that Microsoft had been awarded by the Department of the Interior. That injunction, issued by Braden, had been renewed several times and was to remain in effect until Sept. 19, 2011 to give the DOI time to find an expert to examine Google Apps for Government.

According to court documents, the Interior Department has claimed that Google Apps for Government did not meet the security demands required of its cloud computing system, while Microsoft's BPOS-Federal edition does.

The Department of the Interior lawsuit is the latest chapter in the contentious cloud competition between Google and Microsoft as the two tech titans tussle to dominate the cloud landscape, especially in the growing federal cloud space.

During the course of the Interior Department lawsuit, Google and Microsoft battled over the two companies' Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certifications, a kerfuffle in which Microsoft claimed Google Apps for Government wasn't FISMA certified and therefore wasn't considered secure enough to be used by government agencies. Through the course of the FISMA flap, it was revealed that Microsoft itself was not FISMA certified in the cloud. Both Google and Microsoft have since achieved FISMA certifications.

The lawsuit also comes as the federal cloud takes hold and more government agencies look to adopt cloud computing solutions, a move spurred by former federal CIO Vivek Kundra's federal cloud first policy. Recently, Amazon Web Services joined the likes of Google and Microsoft in the race to the federal cloud with its AWS GovCloud.