DOJ: Google Apps for Government lacked FISMA certification

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Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) cloud-based Google Apps for Government is not certified and accredited under the Federal Information Security Management Act, according to a Justice Department brief (.pdf) released in an April 11 blog post from Microsoft Vice President David Howard.

"On December 16, 2010, counsel for the Government learned that, notwithstanding Google's representations to the public at large, its counsel, the GAO, and this Court, it appears that Google's Google Apps for Government does not have FISMA certification," wrote DOJ officials.

The issue drew attention on the Hill during an April 12 hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's federal financial management, government information, federal services and international security subcommittee.

In July 2010, a product called Google Apps Premier passed the General Services Administration's FISMA accreditation, said Dave McClure, associate administrator at GSA's office of citizen services and innovative technologies, during his testimony.

"Since that time Google has introduced what they're calling Google Apps for Government. It's a subset of Google Apps Premier," said McClure. "As soon as we found out about that, as with all the other agencies, we have--what you would normally do when a product changes--you have to re-certify it. So that's what we're doing right now. We're actually going through a recertification based upon those changes that Google has announced with the Google Apps for Government product offering," said McClure.

Although Google's product is not yet FISMA certified, much of it is constructed from previously-certified components, notes Shawn McCarthy of IDC Government Insights. "It's highly likely that Google will eventually receive separate FISMA certification for Google Apps for Government. But it jumped the gun on how it markets the product to the government," said McCarthy, noting that Google's website advertises: "Google Apps for Government, now with FISMA certification."

For more:
- watch a video of the hearing
- See the DOJ brief (.pdf)

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