Republicans Urge Trump Not To Delay Pentagon Cloud Contract

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Republicans ask President Trump not to delay Pentagon cloud project for which Amazon is competing

Four republican members of the US Congress have written to President Donald Trump, asking him not to delay the $10bn JEDI cloud contract with the US Defense Department.

It comes after President Trump last week said he is “looking very seriously” at the Pentagon cloud contract, and said that the military contract should be investigated.

Microsoft and Amazon (AWS) are the only two remaining bidders for the contract, with Amazon widely being tipped to win. President Trump however is no fan of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and his newspaper the Washington Post.

Amazon Web Services

JEDI contract

The JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) contract is reported to be worth $10 billion (£7.6bn), but smaller cloud players such as Oracle and IBM have been previously ruled out.

Google had already pulled out of the bidding in part because the deal could go against principles it published in June last year, following staff protests against the company’s involvement in developing artificial intelligence for military drones.

The goal of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud deal, which could last up to 10 years, is ambitious.

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.

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

“I’m getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon. … They’re saying it wasn’t competitively bid,” Trump was quoted by the Washington Post as saying last Thursday. “Some of the greatest companies in the world are complaining about it, having to do with Amazon and the Department of Defense, and I will be asking them to look at it very closely to see what’s going on.”

Oracle for example has reportedly expressed concerns about the award process and has asked about the role of a former Amazon employee who worked on the project at the Defense Department but then recused himself.

This person then later left the Defense Department and returned to Amazon Web Services.

And Oracle earlier this month lost a lawsuit that challenged the award process.

A judge reportedly ruled Oracle did not have standing to claim it was wronged by the decision because it did not meet the contract requirements.

The Pentagon has ruled that only Amazon and Microsoft meet the minimum requirements for the contract.

Republican lawmakers

But the President’s intervention in the contract has not been welcomed by some in his own party.

Four Republican members of US Congress sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday urging him to move forward with the contract.

“We believe that it is essential for our national security to move forward as quickly as possible with the award and implementation of this contract,” said the letter, a copy of which has been seen by Reuters.

The letter came from House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mac Thornberry, as well as Michael Turner, Elise Stefanik and Robert Wittman.

They were quoted by Reuters as saying in the letter that the House Armed Services Committee has conducted oversight of the contract from the start and that the courts have upheld the Defense Department’s “handling of the competition.”

“It is understandable that some of the companies competing for the contract are disappointed at not being selected as one of the finalists,” the letter said, adding that further delays will hurt the country’s security and increase costs for the contract.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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