Interior to start over for cloud email with an RFI

Thursday - 9/29/2011, 7:06pm EDT

The Interior Department did not make a deal with Google and Onix in exchange for the companies dropping their contract award protest.

But Interior will conduct market research over the next few months to determine how they will proceed with moving its email and collaboration tools to a cloud services provider.

"In accordance with Interior's authority to determine its business requirements and procurement methods, we intend to conduct research to evaluate cloud computing market places' evolution over the past 18 months," said Drew Malcomb, an DoI spokesman. "If the research indicates that market conditions warrant a new procurement for agencywide cloud based messaging and collaboration services, the department will proceed in that manner. We appreciate Google's decision to withdraw its protest so we may continue to manage this procurement in a fair and transparent manner."

In court documents, Interior said it was developing a new request for information for cloud email and collaboration services.

But an Interior official said if the agency finds the deal with Softchoice/Microsoft is the best one to meet their needs, they will not issue a new request for proposals and return to the award with Microsoft.

Google and Onix withdrew its protest before the Court of Federal Claims Sept. 22.

Judge Susan Braden approved Google/Onix's motion Sept. 28.

Both companies were ready to get on with the procurement.

"We are pleased the case has been dismissed, and that the Department of Interior can proceed to obtain the secure email system it needs," said a Microsoft spokesman in an emailed statement. "We are fully prepared to continue competing for the department's business and are confident that we offer the best cloud solutions and value."

"We're pleased with the outcome of our discussions with the Department of Interior, and look forward to the opportunity to compete for its business and save taxpayers money," said a Google spokesman in an emailed statement.

The Interior official said the department didn't settle with Google and Onix. The companies decided to withdraw on their own.

This procurement is about to enter its second year. Last October, Interior chose Softchoice Corp. to provide email-as-a-service and other collaboration tools in the cloud featuring Microsoft products for its 80,000 employees.

Onix and Google protested the $59 million award alleging Interior didn't hold a fair and open competition.

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Google, Onix withdrawal protest of Interior cloud email award