Google says its Pentagon procurement work doesn’t compromise company standards

WASHINGTON — Google defended Tuesday its plans to win contracts with the Pentagon by saying it would not undermine commercial technology practices.

The company said in a statement Tuesday that its commitment to principles on sharing technologies “does not change or impact our strong commitment to compliance with all applicable laws and regulations that may govern our participation in government procurement.”

As previously reported by The Washington Post, Alphabet Inc.’s Google said last year it would compete for Department of Defense contracts that could exceed $10 billion but said it would change its position on secrecy policies around certain technologies that would have a national security benefit.

In its new statement, Google also said it would support requirements that “assure the widest possible access to any tools and platforms we use to create our platform.”

Last fall, Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, told a House panel that in the company’s initial decision not to compete for the Pentagon work, its reasoning was a “belief that pursuing this work could compromise our ability to continue to build open, interoperable, and secure products and services for our customers on other platforms.”

The statement to the committee said Google “has remained committed to our values.”

“We have made it clear that we believe this approach is inconsistent with our long-term success as a technology company. We now look forward to working with the Department of Defense to understand its specific requirements and we will work with stakeholders across the tech industry in order to ensure these programs meet our principles and leverage all the potential of digital technology for the benefit of our country,” the statement said.

The response by the company follows a blistering statement by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who berated Google for failing to live up to what he said was the company’s reputation.

“We have a history of defeating evil empires, but this is not evil, the department has a purpose — and it is good,” Gowdy wrote on Twitter. “Your behavior is changing the possibilities and strategic options of war or peace. Decency is admired in democracies. Do the right thing — not just enforce narrow self-interest or save your own conscience. Do the right thing now.

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