Google solidifies link with Pentagon ‘combat support’ agency

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) announced Tuesday that it intends to award Google a $27 million sole source contract for visualization technology, the largest known contract between the Internet firm and a national security agency.

NGA says that it is awarding the contract without competition because it needs to have unlimited access to Google Earth Enterprise services and software and to provide other government agencies access to that data at an unclassified level. Only Google can provide those services, according to NGA’s announcement posted on

As we noted here last month, the original announcement of the sole source contract for Google prompted an unsuccessful protest from Microsoft that its Bing search engine could provide such services.

The one-year renewable contract appears to be an outgrowth of the NGA’s use of Google Earth technology in highly classified government activities. In its announcement, NGA stated that it has already made “a significant investment” in Google Earth through visualization services “on SECRET and TOP SECRET government networks.”

On its Web site, NGA describes itself as  “a Department of Defense combat support agency” which “develops imagery and map-based intelligence solutions for U.S. national defense, homeland security and safety of navigation.”

Published by Margot Williams

Margot Williams has more than two decades of experience in roles as investigative researcher, research editor, database editor, technology trainer and library director at The New York Times, The Washington Post, Gannett newspapers and Time Warner. She was lead researcher on two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams at The Washington Post for reporting on terrorism in 2002 and for an investigation of the use of deadly force by the District of Columbia police in 1999. Margot is the co-author of “Great Scouts! CyberGuides for Subject Searching on the Web” (Cyberage Books, 1999) and contributed to the “Networkings” column in The Washington Post for five years.

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