Pentagon To Reconsider Parts Of JEDI Cloud Contract Award

The US Department of Defense (DoD) is reconsidering parts of its decision to award Microsoft the JEDI cloud contract, in its entirety.

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

News that the Pentagon is now reconsidering this, is the second piece of recent bad news for Microsoft. Last month a US judge granted Amazon’s request to temporarily halt the DoD and Microsoft from moving forward on the up-to-$10 billion cloud computing deal,

Political influence?

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

AWS CEO Andy Jassy had previously said 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, and in December 2019 Amazon officially named President Trump in its court complaint, and accused him of exerting “improper pressure” and bias.

And now Reuters, quoting court filings, revealed that the Pentagon is seeking the court’s permission to reconsider certain aspects of its decision to award the JEDI contract to Microsoft.

Reuters reported that lawyers for the US government have asked a federal judge to grant the Pentagon “120 days to reconsider certain aspects of the challenged agency decision,” the DoD said in a filing to the US Court of Federal Claims late on Thursday.

“DoD does not intend to conduct discussions with offerors or to accept proposal revisions with respect to any aspect of the solicitation other than price scenario,” the filing reportedly stated.

The Pentagon also said it wanted to re-evaluate parts of the bidders’ price proposals and online marketplaces.

Amazon reaction

This has prompted an immediate response from Amazon.

“We are pleased that the DoD has acknowledged ‘substantial and legitimate’ issues that affected the JEDI award decision, and that corrective action is necessary,” a spokesman for Amazon’a cloud computing unit told Reuters in an emailed statement.

But a Microsoft spokesman said the Pentagon had made the right decision when they awarded the contract.

“However, we support their decision to reconsider a small number of factors as it is likely the fastest way to resolve all issues and quickly provide the needed modern technology to people across our armed forces,” he reportedly said.

Amazon has long felt that the Pentagon decision was politically motivated by President Trump’s dislike of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post, which Bezos owns.

In January this year Amazon filed a temporary restraining order with a US court to demand that Microsoft halt work on the US Department of Defense cloud contract.

Acrimonious bidding

And it is fair to say that the JEDI contract was blighted by a highly acrimonious bidding process, right from the start.

In July 2019 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 had 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 always 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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