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Google beats Microsoft to US govt contract win

US Department of the Interior will shift 90,000 workers to Google's hosted email and collaboration platform

By Steve Evans

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Google has won a contract from the US Department of the Interior (DoI) to supply its email and collaboration platform, beating Microsoft to the award.

The DoI values the seven-year contract at $35m, which is $14m less than it would have had to pay Microsoft for the same service, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The move is part of the DoI’s plan to save $500m in taxpayer money by 2020, through a more modern approach to technology. The contract, awarded to Google partner Onix Networking will see Google Apps for Government rolled out throughout the department.

Part of this process is the consolidation of seven existing disparate on-premise email systems into one single cloud-based platform by the end of 2012. The Department believes this will help eliminate waste and reduce redundancy.

According to the agency, the first part of the contract will required Google to demonstrate it can, "meet the Department’s objectives for an integrated suite of tools and services, information assurance and regulatory compliance," it said in a statement. Once that is out of the way, migration of over 90,000 mailboxes will begin.

As well as the hosted email functions, the DoI will also use video and audio chat features and Google Docs, Calendar and Sites will also be rolled out to help collaboration within the department.

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Mobile users will also be catered for, meaning they will be able to keep up with work when out and about.

"This award is a great example of how our IT Transformation initiative is already delivering value to the Department," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. "Implementing a Department-wide, cloud-based email system that helps modernise the ways we do business while cutting costs is good government, plain and simple."

"Our approach represents a unique and thoughtful way to ensure we are replacing our on- premise systems with truly cutting edge cloud based technologies that meet the Department’s needs," stated Bernard Mazer, Interior’s Chief Information Officer. "This is a significant step forward in our efforts to bring Department employees the email and collaboration tools they need to more effectively support our mission."

According to the WSJ, the contract was originally awarded to Microsoft, but Onix Networking sued the DoI, claiming they had not adequately considered Google Apps during the bidding process.

The lawsuit was dropped in September 2011 when the DoI said the decision to award the contract to Microsoft had been based on "stale" research. A new, revised version of the contract was put out to tender in February 2012, which Google won.

Microsoft released a statement to ZDNet, saying it was disappointed by the news.

"Microsoft has a positive, longstanding relationship with the Department of Interior and we are working on a number of enterprise-wide initiatives with the agency," the statement said. "Although we are disappointed by this award, we will engage with our partners and DoI to review and understand the reasons for this decision. Microsoft remains committed to providing our customers with the cloud services that have the performance, security, privacy and other capabilities they expect and deserve."

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