Pentagon re-awards its $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract to Microsoft
The United States Department of Defence confirmed the award of the controversion $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud project to Microsoft despite Amazon’s objections. The JEDI project has been at the center of the protracted legal war between Amazon and the Pentagon.
The 10 billion JEDI cloud contract was first conceived in 2018 and Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, and REAN Cloud were invited to participate in the bidding process. At that time it was thought that the JEDI project was specially tailored for companies like Google and Amazon. After protests from Google employees, Google decided to drop out of contention for the contract because of conflict with its corporate values. After Google opting out, Pentagon decided to award the $10 billion contract to Amazon but Oracle filed a lawsuit alleging the conflicts of interest from Deap Ubhi, who worked for Amazon both before and after his time in the Department of Defense.
In 2019, President Trump suspended the award of the JEDI contract award to Amazon and ordered Defense Secretary Mark Esper to investigate complaints of favoritism towards Amazon. After months of deliberation, JEDI was finally awarded to Microsoft in October 2019. The mainstream media criticized Trump’s move of awarding JEDI to Microsoft as they felt that it done due to Trump’s dislike towards Amazon’s founder, Bezos, owner of the Washington Post, a newspaper critical of Trump.
Amazon immediately filed a lawsuit against the award of the JEDI contract to Microsoft. According to Bezos, Trump “used his power to ‘screw Amazon’ out of the JEDI contract”. Amazon argued in the Court of Federal Claims that the procurement was improperly decided and possibly subject to political influence from the White House.
Now after 9 months of legal arguments, Pentagon has re-awarded the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract to Microsoft. “The Department has completed its comprehensive re-evaluation of the JEDI cloud proposals and determined that Microsoft’s proposal continues to represent the best value to the government,” according to a Defense Department news release Sept. 4.
The contract is still subject to a stop-work order going back to February. “While contract performance will not begin immediately due to the preliminary injunction…DOD is eager to begin delivering this capability to our men and women in uniform,” the statement said.
Amazon repeated its November 2019 allegations of procurement being influenced by politics in a blog post late Friday. The blog post says that Amazon is not satisfied with the result of the corrective action offered by DOD and would continue to seek to overturn the award in court.
“While corrective action can be used to efficiently resolve protests, in reality, this corrective action changed nothing, wasted five months that could have been spent getting to the bottom of these serious concerns, and was designed solely to distract from our broader concerns and reaffirm a decision that was corrupted by the president’s self-interest.,” the post read. “When we opposed the DoD’s approach to corrective action, we predicted this would happen, and it has. By continuing to delay, distract, and avoid addressing these very serious issues, the DOD is turning out to be its own worst enemy with regard to speeding things along.”
The blog post looks to link the JEDI award with a pattern of “egregious” conduct, “blatant cronyism” and openly steering government contracts to vendors for political reasons. “The question we continue to ask ourselves is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of the Department of Defense to pursue his own personal and political ends? Throughout our protest, we’ve been clear that we won’t allow blatant political interference, or inferior technology, to become an acceptable standard,” the post states.
Amazon may be citing politics but the U.S. military wants the JEDI project activated as soon as possible in view of increased Chinese threats. Senior Pentagon officials have already noted the urgency of bringing the JEDI capability online due to increased Chinese intrusions in the South China Sea and India.
“JEDI Cloud is critical to safeguarding our technological advantage against those that seek to harm our nation,” Lt. Gen. Bradford Shwedo, the CIO for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a court filing in a separate JEDI lawsuit brought by Oracle which the company lost.
It seems that Microsoft is the clear winner of this $10 billion mega stakes.