Amazon appeals against “free and fair” DoD decision to award JEDI to Microsoft

Harry Lye 15 November 2019 (Last Updated November 15th, 2019 15:45)

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has filed an appeal with the US Federal Court of Claims protesting the Department of Defence’s (DoD) decision to award the Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract to Microsoft.

Amazon appeals against “free and fair” DoD decision to award JEDI to Microsoft
The Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract has seen significant stumbling blocks during the procurement process. Credis: David B Gleason / CC BY-SA 2.0.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has filed an appeal with the US Federal Court of Claims protesting the Department of Defence’s (DoD) decision to award the Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract to Microsoft.

AWS blamed politics for affecting the decision-making process, with a company spokesperson telling Army Technology: “AWS is uniquely experienced and qualified to provide the critical technology the US military needs, and remains committed to supporting the DoD’s modernisation effort.

“We also believe it’s critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence.”

Microsoft was awarded the ten-year $10bn contract after a fraught competition process that saw Oracle take legal action and reviews from the Secretary of Defence Mark Esper  and the DoD’s Inspector General.

Esper then recused himself from the decision-making process on the contract citing his son’s  work for IBM, one of the programme’s early bidders.

A federal court dismissed Oracle’s legal challenge who at the time cited the close relationship between the Pentagon and Amazon employees as a source of potential misconduct.

AWS criticised the competition, with the spokesperson adding: “Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias – and it’s important that these matters be examined and rectified.”

Esper himself hit back at AWS claims that the process was biased, telling a press conference in Seoul: “I am confident it was conducted freely and fairly, without any type of outside influence.”

According to Reuters he  made the remarks in response to a question about whether President Donald Trump had directed the Pentagon to “bypass Amazon”.

Previously President Donald Trump weighed in on the contract after reportedly being shown a document created by Oracle titled ‘A conspiracy to create a ten year DoD cloud monopoly’. Trump also said he had received “tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon”.

Originally AWS was expected to win the contract due to its experience developing cloud solutions for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) under a $600m contract.

The ultimate aim of the JEDI programme is to unify the DoD’s wide-ranging cloud services into a unified platform that could ultimately store up to 80% of the Pentagon’s data.