Federal CIO Kundra Reinforces IT Procurement Neutrality
A memo from the OMB comes a day after Google won an injunction preventing the Department of Interior from awarding a contract to Microsoft due to alleged unfair technology acquisition practices.
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U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra reminded agencies of their obligation to use neutrality when procuring technology for federal use in a memo the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released Friday.
The memo -- posted on the CIO.gov Web site -- comes a day after Google won a temporary order preventing the Department of Interior from awarding an estimated $59 million contract to Microsoft and deploying the software giant's cloud-based email and collaboration services. The move stems from a lawsuit Google and reseller Onix Networks filed in late October charging Interior with failing to follow federal procurement guidelines in its search for a hosted collaboration suite last year.
It's unclear whether Kundra's memo -- in which he reminds agencies that vendor neutrality "helps ensure that federal investments in IT are merit-based, improve the performance of our government and create value for the American people" -- was spurred by the lawsuit, but its timing is certainly curious.
In the memo, Kundra directed agencies to follow policies laid out by the Federal Acquisition Regulation and OMB to analyze all viable options before making technology decisions based on merit. Daniel Gordon, administrator for federal procurement policy, and U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator are listed as memo co-authors.
"This means selecting suitable IT on a case-by-case basis to meet the particular operational needs of the agency by considering factors such as performance, cost, security, interoperability, ability to share or re-use, and availability of quality support," according to the memo.
The Google case against Interior is not the first time the company has cried foul over what it considers unfair procurement practices by the U.S. government, but it is the first time Google has taken legal action.
In October, the state of California awarded Microsoft and CSC a more than $50 million, three-year contract to help the state migrate from in-house email to two hosted systems, one of which is based on Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite.
The state worked for more than a year to secure the contract, a process that involved accusations by Google that it was unfairly prevented from even competing for the business. In a Los Angeles Times report, Google spokesman Andrew Kovacs said that Google bowed out of the competitive process before fully taking it on because the state demanded requirements that were impossible for the search company to meet.
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