Cloud Service Providers Spar with Government Over Contract
The U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) business purchase agreement (BPA) with vendors including Google and Microsoft to provide cloud-based messaging and productivity services has come under fire due to restrictive terms on where data centers can be located, The Washington Post is reporting.
The bones of the matter are this: longtime TalkinCloud readers know the government is moving to the cloud, agency by agency, thanks in large part to the Federal CIO office’s “Cloud First” policy. But the General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees and approves cloud and technology migrations, has placed hardcore and sometimes nonsensical restrictions on where the cloud services can be hosted.
As it stands today, the GSA’s BPA allows for government agencies to take advantage of clouds hosted in war-torn countries such as Yemen, but won’t put the seal of approval on services that originate from facilities in rising tech hubs such as India and Brazil.
Intriguingly, the challenge came from two Microsoft-partnered managed service providers: Annapolis, Md.-based Technosource Information Systems and Reston, Va.-based TrueTandem filed a bid protest claiming these purportedly pointless rules were cramping their business.
To be more specific, they claimed the rules severely limit their ability to compete, since offering services from data centers in unapproved countries could bar them from the bidding process under the BPA as it stands. Meanwhile, Google partners Onix Networking and Unisys also registered with the complaint, allowing them to testify as well, though their stance remains unclear at the moment.
And now the Government Accounting Office (GAO), which arbitrates these bid challenges — but can’t enforce decisions — has ruled these two MSPs have a point and the GSA hasn’t provided a good reason for that geographical selectivism. The GSA said it plans on taking action (or not) based on the GAO’s recommendations within 60 days, but again, it’s not bound by the GAO’s ruling.
Intriguingly, the GAO upheld a different part of the BPA, despite the second part of that complaint: Agencies need their clouds to be hosted in their own “government community clouds,” designed only for federal, state, and local entities, to prevent co-mingling.
It’s extremely intriguing that Google and Microsoft are taking this fight to the General Services Admission by way of their partner base, though it’s not the first time for that, either. Stay tuned to Talkin’ Cloud as we continue to monitor government cloud issues.