Amazon Files Motion To Halt Microsoft Work On Pentagon JEDI Contract

Amazon has made good its threat last week to file a temporary restraining order with a US court to demand that Microsoft halt work on the US Department of Defense lucrative cloud contract.

Last week a legal motion was being prepared, which would ask a US judge to temporarily block Microsoft from working on the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud (JEDI) contract.

In October last year, the Pentagon officially awarded the JEDI contract to Microsoft, despite Amazon’s AWS cloud division being widely regarded as favourite to win the contract.

Restraining order

Now on Wednesday Amazon has confirmed it has filed a motion in court to “pause the US. Department of Defense and Microsoft from carrying out an up to $10 billion cloud computing deal until a court rules on its protest of the contract award,” Reuters reported.

“It is common practice to stay contract performance while a protest is pending, and it’s important that the numerous evaluation errors and blatant political interference that impacted the JEDI award decision be reviewed,” AWS reportedly said in a statement.

Last month Amazon officially named US President Donald Trump in its court complaint, and him accused him of exerting “improper pressure” and bias.

Essentially, the Pentagon aims to create a single cloud architecture across all the military branches and combatant commands. The idea is to allow a seamless workflow and information-sharing environment.

AWS complaint

It is clear that AWS is not going to let the matter lie.

Indeed, Amazon was very unhappy at what it believed was political bias from the US President, and in November 2019 filed a complaint with the US Court of Federal Claims contesting that decision.

AWS CEO Andy Jassy had previously revealed in an interview that he believed the decision was not adjudicated fairly and called for the whole JEDI decision process to be reviewed.

Amazon has essentially argued that politics got in the way of a fair contracting process.

It feels the Pentagon decision was politically motivated by President Donald Trump’s dislike of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post, which Bezos owns.

The US Department of Defense has stood by its decision to award the contract to Microsoft, with its Secretary Mark Esper rejecting any suggestion of bias and saying the decision was conducted freely and fairly, without any outside influence.

And that is not the only legal challenge facing the DoD.

Oracle has also filed an appeal after its lawsuit about its exclusion from the JEDI project failed earlier in the year. It argues that there was a conflict of interest.

Acrimonious bidding

It is fair to say that the JEDI contract was blighted by a highly acrimonious bidding process.

In July President Donald Trump said that he was “looking very seriously” at the Pentagon cloud contract, and that it should be investigated.

The President said he would direct aides to investigate the pending military contract, saying he had heard multiple complaints about an allegedly unfair bidding process.

The project was then briefly placed on hold, until Defense Secretary Mark Esper could ‘review’ the program.

In the end, there were only two bidders for the contract, namely Amazon and Microsoft, with Azure being the eventually winner.

AWS had been considered the clear favourite to win the contract, as AWS already provided some cloud services to the DoD, and in 2013 won a $600m cloud contract with the CIA.

A book by the speech writer for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis alleged that Trump asked Mattis in the summer of 2018 to “screw Amazon” out of a chance to bid on the contract.

Mattis declined.

The Department of Defense for its part has said that the acquisition process “was conducted in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.”

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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