Microsoft accused Google of lying about its Google Apps FISMA certification. Google says it was simply updating its authorization with the General Services Administration.
Microsoft has uncovered details in a court filing that it
claims proves Google has been lying to the Justice Department about achieving a
government certification for its Google Apps collaboration software.
Google denied the allegation and claimed that Microsoft
is trying to create a smokescreen for the fact that it doesn't have the Federal
Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification for its own rival
Business Productivity Online Suite-Federal software.
FISMA accreditation means
a product has passed a government agency's security requirements. Google achieved
this credit for Google Apps last July, putting it in a favorable light for securing contracts with any of the dozens of government agencies.
The road to this latest skirmish is long and winding, steeped in semantics and imbued with what-have-yous and ins and outs. Last
year, the Department of the Interior picked Microsoft BPOS, which would have let
the software maker provide Web-based email for 88,000 government workers.
Google sued the DOI
over the $59 million deal in October, claiming that it failed to look at Google Apps or any
other suites in the market in the spirit of open competition.
Moreover, it pointed out that Microsoft's software was
not FISMA certified, meaning it was unfit for use by the agency.
Google filed a motion for a preliminary injunction and
secured the injunction. In at least three sections it claims that its Google Apps
for Government product, which is tailored for government specs, is certified
But David Howard, Microsoft corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, discovered
after some of the court papers were unsealed that the DOJ said that
despite Google's claims, Google Apps for Government does not have FISMA
Turns out Google's FISMA certification is for Google Apps
Business edition (formerly known as Google Apps Premier edition), for which it
charges $50 per user, per year. Google confirmed this for eWEEK, but said it
did not mislead the court.
"Google Apps received a FISMA security authorization
from the General Services Administration in July 2010," said David Mihalchik,
a business development executive for Google's Enterprise group.
Here's where it gets tricky. Every government agency has
different sets of requirements to fit its FISMA certification, so what works
for the GSA may not work for the DOI, or even the DOJ. Google could achieve FISMA
for Google Apps from one agency, but be told it needs to be more secure for