An industry trade group filed a complaint that Department of Defense CIO Terry Halvorsen’s recent praise of Microsoft Windows 10 constitutes a violation of federal regulations prohibiting government officials from endorsing commercial products.
The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter expressing "deep concerns" with recent remarks Halvorsen made about Windows 10.
SIIA said the remarks constitute an "unethical endorsement of a commercial product by a government official."
The Pentagon is in the middle of "rapidly" transitioning its 4 million devices to Windows 10. On April 8, Halvorsen held a conference call with reporters to discuss the upgrade, during which he said: "I would tell you if you're using a computer at home and you're not on Windows 10, you're doing yourself an injustice. You ought to be moving to Windows 10,” according to a Nextgov report.
Halverson in particular touts the security features of Windows 10, along with the Azure cloud platform. Overall, the quick transition to the upgraded operating system is intended to boost enterprise security and help contain cyberthreats, according to a Tech Times report.
During the call, Halvorsen also said that his office was planning to issue guidance to Pentagon employees "listing what the characteristics of Windows 10 would give you if you put it in your home system."
In the letter to Carter, SIIA’s president Ken Wasch said, "although Mr. Halvorsen declared that his remarks do not constitute a commercial endorsement, his recommendation cannot be fairly characterized as anything other than a commercial endorsement."
The group argues Halvorsen's remarks "create an unfair advantage in the marketplace" and is requesting that Halvorsen publicly "correct" his comments.
DOD Joint Ethics Regulation prevents Defense officials from endorsing nongovernment products or using their official titles "to suggest official endorsement or preferential treatment of any nonfederal entity."