Forget net neutrality. In the wake of the court fight between Google, Microsoft and the Interior Department, the new controversial federal IT issue may be tech procurement neutrality.
On Friday, federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra sent a memo to agency CIOs and procurement officials to remind them of the government’s stance of being technology- and vendor-neutral when buying IT equipment and software.
“This long-standing policy helps ensure that federal investments in IT are merit-based, improve the performance of our government and create value for the American people,” he wrote in the memo, which is available on CIO.gov.
The tenets of technology neutrality are already laid out in the Federal Acquisition Regulation, as well as Office of Management and Budget guidelines, he added.
Those guidelines are built around merit-based requirements for evaluating and choosing technology and software, “free of preconceived preferences based on how the technology is developed, licensed or distributed,” he said.
Still, the controversy surrounding federal IT procurement has continued.
Google filed a lawsuit in October alleging the Interior Department had not followed procurement regulations following a DOI award to Microsoft for its hosted collaboration suite.
It remains unclear whether the memo was “spurred by the lawsuit,” an InformationWeek report says, “but its timing is certainly curious.”
The OMB memo also provides a stamp of approval on the use of open source software in federal IT procurement.
“Agencies should analyze alternatives that include proprietary, open source and mixed source technologies,” Kundra wrote.
“This allows the government to pursue the best strategy to meet its particular needs.”
Administrator for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Dan Gordon and U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel were listed as co-authors of the memo.