Google backs off year-old cloud computing lawsuit against federal agency

Search giant files to withdraw complaint that Interior Department favored Microsoft in cloud contract bidding process

Usually it's the defendant in a lawsuit that seeks to have a case dismissed.

But Google, for some mysterious reason, has filed a motion to dismiss the case it brought last October against the U.S. Department of the Interior alleging that the federal agency inappropriately rigged the bidding process for cloud-based email and collaboration services in favor of Microsoft.

Google and one of its cloud resellers, ONIX Networking Corp., filed the lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, protesting the terms of the department's Request for Quotation regarding messaging products (email and collaboration services) for its 88,000 employees. The $59 million proposed contract would have extended for five years.

According to the complaint, even though the DOI had given "assurances to Google representatives that DOI would conduct a full and open competition for its messaging requirements, the RFQ specified that only the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite-Federal could be proposed."

The suit alleged that "such specification is unduly restrictive of competition in violation of the Competition in Contracting Act."

Google gained a preliminary injunction in January that temporarily barred the Interior Department from awarding the contract to Microsoft. That order was extended into this month as the court allowed both parties to work toward a settlement.

Now Google is backing off. But here's the interesting part: In the motion filed last Thursday, Google and Onix Networking asserted that the federal agency had agreed "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 … in a manner that will not preclude plaintiffs from fairly competing."

Yet a day later, Interior Department attorneys told the court that it agreed to no such thing! What is going on here?

But in the spirit of working out their differences, Interior offered no objection to Google's move to dismiss the case.

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