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Microsoft: Google Lied About Apps for Government Certification

Microsoft has accused Google of misleading users regarding government certification for its Apps for Government products, released in July 2010.

According to Google, Apps for Government is certified under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). Microsoft says otherwise, citing a Department of Justice (DoJ) brief in a Google suit against the department, in which a footnote states, "[I]t appears that Google's Google Apps for Government does not have FISMA certification."

FISMA is a 2002 law that requires agencies to certify information security processes for their IT systems, including those managed by other agencies or contractors.

The DoJ brief cites an e-mail from December in which a security officer within the General Services Administration (GSA), which issues FISMA certifications, says that Apps for Government does not have FISMA accreditation, according to the Los Angeles Times. Google did receive FISMA certification for Google Apps Premier, the brief states, but Apps for Government is a "more restrictive" version that Google is preparing to submit for FISMA certification.

Coincidentally, the GSA in December became the first federal agency to move its agencywide e-mail to the cloud, choosing Google Apps for Government.

In a blog post on Monday, David Howard, Microsoft corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, called attention to the DoJ's brief, which had been unsealed last week.

"Google can't be under the misimpression that FISMA certification for Google Apps Premier also covers Google Apps for Government," Howard wrote. "If that were the case, then why did Google, according to the attachments in the DoJ brief, decide to file a separate FISMA application for Google Apps for Government?"

In a statement, David Mihalchik, business development executive for Google Federal, responded by saying Apps for Government "is the same system with enhanced security controls that go beyond FISMA requirements," and added Google "did not mislead the court or our customers."

The dispute grows out of a suit Google filed against the Department of Interior (DoI) in October. Google had accused the DoI of favoring Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) over Google's offerings when it was considering bids for departmentwide e-mail. BPOS, a collection of cloud-based services, is still under consideration to get FISMA certification for some applications, although Microsoft's cloud infrastructure has received FISMA approval. A judge granted Google a preliminary injunction in January.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is the managing editor of Government Computer News.

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