Google Wins Freeze on U.S. Contract With Microsoft

Google Inc. won a temporary court order halting the award of a $49.3 million contract favoring Microsoft Corp. for an e-mail system serving the U.S. Interior Department.

A federal judge in Washington stopped the U.S. from proceeding with a Microsoft system for the department’s 88,000 employees in an order unsealed yesterday. U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Susan Braden the cited deficiencies in the procurement process in her order freezing award of the contract.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, and Onix Networking Corp., a licensed Google seller, sued the Interior Department in October, claiming the department didn’t provide a “full and open” competition for the contract.

“Without a preliminary injunction, the award will put into motion the final migration of Interior’s e-mail system, achieve ’organizational lock-in’ for Microsoft, and cost Google the opportunity to compete,” the judge wrote in a 27-page decision.

Braden said she was informed that the department intended to award the contract on Jan. 25.

In its Oct. 29 complaint, Google said the bid request put out by Interior “specified that only the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite-Federal could be proposed,” making it impossible for the company to compete for the work.

“As a proponent of open competition on the Internet and in the technology sector in general, we’re pleased with the court’s decision,” Google said in an e-mailed statement.

Jack Evans, a spokesman for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision. The U.S. Justice Department also didn’t respond immediately to an e-mail seeking comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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