Google's software battle with U.S. government heats up

New details emerged recently in the battle between Microsoft, Google, and the U.S. government’s choice of default software. Here’s the rub: Google filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government in November 2010 alleging that the Department of Interior didn’t give its Google Apps Premier a fair shake before choosing to use Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite-Federal for all of its employees. That’s the tip of the iceberg, as the story gets a bit more complicated. See, in order for the software to be certified for government use, it needs to get a FISMA stamp from the General Services Administration (GSA). Google Apps Premier was certified in June 2010, but it appears that a subset “Google Apps for Government,” — introduced later — has yet to receive that certification. According to Business Insider, Google assumed that since its Google Apps for Government product was more secure the original FISMA certificate would fit the bill. Technically, it sounds like that alone is reason enough for the government to choose Microsoft’s suite, making Google’s entire lawsuit moot. But we’re sure we’ll hear more from the Google defense. Hit the jump for a testimony from the GSA’s David McClure while speaking to U.S. Senator Tom Carper.

CARPER: According to press reports the Department of Justice notified Google in December of 2010 that its Apps for Government was not in fact FISMA compliant. To help provide some greater clarity on this issue, I’d like to ask both of you if you would to comment on these recent reports and discuss how OMB and GSA are addressing the concerns that are raised by them.

MCCLURE (GSA): Sure, I’d be glad to bring some clarity to it. In July 2010, GSA did a FISMA security accreditation for “Google Apps Premier.” That’s what the Google product was called, and it passed our FISMA accreditation process. We actually did that so other agencies could use the Google product. If we do one accreditation, it’s leveraged across many agencies. Since that time, Google has introduced what they’re calling “Google Apps for Government.” It’s a subset of Google Apps Premier, and as soon as we found out about that, as with all the other agencies, we have what you would normally do when a product changes, you have to re-certify it.  So that’s what we’re doing right now, we’re actually going through a re-certification based on those changes that Google has announced with the “Apps for Government” product offering.

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