SAN FRANCISCO: Google has sued the US Department of the Interior due to a dispute over lucrative government contracts for online applications.

Following its recent loss of a bidding war against rival Microsoft over cloud-based applications ruled acceptable for use by government workers, the tech firm has asked the US Court of Federal Claims to widen the bidding process.

The dispute highlights the hurdles Google faces in persuading government agencies that its online applications are secure.

In August, the US interior department narrowed its bidding criteria to include only solutions that were based on Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite, according to the Google complaint.

The suit claims that officials had internally come to the view that Google's approach to running cloud applications was less secure than that of its rivals, even though the company was simultaneously given broader approval to bid for US federal government contracts.

Google may have won a significant breakthrough against its rival last year, when Los Angeles announced it would move its workers away from Microsoft's software and onto Google Apps.

But the project missed its deadline for completion after the city's police department said that concerns about security remained.

Google says it expects to complete the project this year.

While government officials have insisted they require a private cloud to run their services – a system that would rule out the risk of mixing their data with that of other Google customers – the firm dislikes the idea on the grounds of additional cost.

It says it will overcome Department of Interior concerns by offering the agency its own domain.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional copy by Warc staff