Documents unsealed last week by a federal court, and posted online by Microsoft this morning, show the U.S. government disputing Google’s claim that Google Apps for Government has received a coveted certification under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).
The documents surfaced in response to Google’s challenge to the U.S. Department of Interior’s decision to only accept bids involving Microsoft technologies for a contract to upgrade the email system for the department’s 88,000 employees. In that challenge, Google has cited FISMA certification for Google Apps for Government as one reason it deserves consideration. (Microsoft’s rival Business Productivity Online Suite has yet to get the key FISMA nod.)
But here’s what lawyers for the government write in a footnote to a Dec. 17 brief, unsealed last week.
On December 16, 2010, counsel for the Government learned that, notwithstanding Google’s representations to the public at large, its counsel, the GAO, and this Court, it appears that Google’s Google Apps for Government does not have FISMA certification. … We immediately contacted counsel for Google, shared this information and advised counsel that we would bring this to the Court’s attention. According to the GSA, Google‟s Google Apps Premier received FISMA certification on July 21, 2010. However, Google intends to offer Google Apps for Government as a more restrictive version of its product and, Google is currently in the process of finishing its application for FISMA certification for its Google Apps for Government. … To be clear, in the view of GSA, the agency that certified Google’s Google Apps Premier, Google does not have FISMA certification for Google Apps for Government.
In the Microsoft blog post this morning, Microsoft deputy general counsel David Howard notes that Google’s website continues to say, “Google Apps for Government, now with FISMA certification.”
“While we wait for Google to provide its side of the story, perhaps it’s time to ask another question: at the very least, isn’t it past time for Google to issue a correction on its website? The Department of Justice has concluded squarely that Google Apps for Government does not have FISMA certification,” writes Howard. “Open competition should involve accurate competition. It’s time for Google to stop telling governments something that is not true.”
GeekWire has contacted Google for comment. Stay tuned.