Interior rebids cloud email contract

The Interior Department issued a new solicitation for cloud email services Tuesday.

The department withdrew an earlier solicitation in September 2011 after a yearlong legal battle during which Google challenged Interior's award of the $59 million contract to Softchoice, which offers a Microsoft-based system.

A federal judge agreed to dismiss the case in exchange for Interior's withdrawal of the contract. Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite and Google's Google Apps for Government have proved among the most popular cloud email choices for government agencies in recent years.

Microsoft Office is currently the standard email system for Interior's 92,000 employees.

Interior will be among the largest agencies yet to move to a cloud-based email system. The General Services Administration and the Agriculture Department also have migrated to cloud-based systems, as have other agencies.

The goal of Tuesday's request for proposals, according to a cover letter, is to reduce the cost of email and collaboration services while "providing Interior's employees with secure, modern, reliable communication and collaboration tools." It should include "cloud-based email archiving [and] journaling, instant messaging, desktop videoconferencing, Web-based collaboration systems, and support for connecting mobile devices while ensuring that appropriate security and privacy safeguards are met."

The deadline for proposals is Feb. 29.

The Office of Management and Budget has directed all agencies to shift three services to the cloud by May and expects to save $5 billion annually by moving roughly one-fourth of the government's computing to the cloud by 2015.