After years of back and forth, including a lawsuit, the Department of Interior has selected Google Apps for Government reseller Onix to provide cloud-based email and collaboration services for the agency’s 88,000 users. Google beat out Microsoft for the 7-year contract, worth nearly $35 million. The original contract was said to be worth $59 million over five years, according to The Seattle Times.

The win comes after Google and its resale partner Onix filed a lawsuit last year against the DOI, claiming that the original bidding process favored Microsoft because guidelines dictated that Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite (now Office 365) be included in the project. The Washington Post noted that, at the time of the lawsuit, “Google called the requirement ‘unduly restrictive of competition.’” Last year, the DOI decided to issue a new request for bids, opening the process to Google and prompting the company to drop the lawsuit.

“Implementing a Department-wide, cloud-based email system that helps modernize the ways we do business while cutting costs is good government, plain and simple,” Ken Salazar, secretary of the interior, said in a press release.

According to TechCrunch, the DOI will be “the largest major U.S. government agency to switch to Google’s cloud,” following moves by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the General Services Administration, the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and the Idaho National Laboratory. Competition between Microsoft and Google for government cloud productivity contracts has been fierce as the federal government moves more applications to the cloud. Last summer, the former Federal CIO Vivek Kundra indicated that moving applications and infrastructure to the cloud would be a top priority for government agencies as a cost-saving and efficiency-boosting measure.

The contract is part of the DOI’s larger IT Transformation effort to update its technology systems “to provide employees with 21st century IT and support good government practices by reducing waste, cutting costs and integrating services,” according to the department. The agency estimates that these technology improvements will save taxpayers $500 million by 2020. In addition to consolidating the seven current email systems used by Interior employees to the single Google system, the agency’s IT Transformation also will reduce the number of data centers run by the agency by 45 percent and introduce cloud-based systems for forms, electronic records, documents and content management.

Have you followed the battle between Google and Microsoft for this DOI contract? What do you think of the DOI’s decision to implement Google Apps for Government over Office 365?

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