Amazon’s Pentagon JEDI Complaint Blames President Trump

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US President Donald Trump has been named in official AWS complaint over Pentagon JEDI cloud contract award to Microsoft Azure

Amazon has officially named US President Donald Trump in its complaint, accusing him exerting “improper pressure” and bias.

It comes after the Pentagon in late October officially awarded the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud (JEDI) contract to Microsoft, despite Amazon’s AWS cloud division being regarded as favourite to win the contract.

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

Trump interference?

Indeed, earlier this month AWS CEO Andy Jassy 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.

“When you have a sitting president who’s willing to be very vocal that they dislike a company and the CEO of that company, it makes it difficult for government agencies including the DoD to make objective decisions without fear of reprisal,” Jassy said at the time.

And now the Amazon complaint filed in the US Court of Federal Claims has been published by Reuters.

The complaint (parts of which are blanked out) alleges that President Trump launched “repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks to steer” the Pentagon cloud contract away from Amazon Web Services.

“These errors, however, were not merely the result of arbitrary and capricious decision-making,” Amazon alleged. “They were the result of improper pressure from President Donald J. Trump, who launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks to steer the JEDI Contract away from AWS to harm his perceived political enemy-Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder and CEO of AWS’s parent company, Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”), and owner of the Washington Post.”

“DoD’s substantial and pervasive errors are hard to understand and impossible to assess separate and apart from the President’s repeatedly expressed determination to, in the words of the President himself, ‘screw Amazon’,” said the complaint.

“Basic justice requires reevaluation of proposals and a new award decision,” it said. “ The stakes are high. The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends.”

Trump’s interference made it impossible for the Pentagon to judge a winner “reasonably, consistently, an in a fair and equal manner,” Amazon said.

Amazon and the Department of Defense did not immediately respond to requests for comment, Reuters reported.

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.

Political bias?

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.

But President Trump is known to be no fan of Jeff Bezos.

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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Author: Tom Jowitt
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