Amazon Web Services (AWS) is not ready to go gently into the night in regards to the U.S. Department of Defense awarding the $10 billion JEDI contract to Microsoft.
On Tuesday, AWS sent out a partially redacted complaint it had filed with in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on Oct. 23 that laid the blame for Microsoft winning the contract squarely at the feet of the Trump administration. In short, AWS maintains its bid for the 10-year cloud contract was cheaper and better than Microsoft's.
The court filing, which was unsealed on Tuesday, said, in part, that the contract awarded to AWS rival Microsoft should be invalidated because it was "the product of systematic bias, bad faith, and undue influence exerted by President Trump to steer the award away from AWS."
Amazon has contended that President Trump's dislike of Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos played a role in Microsoft winning the contract. Trump tipped his hand that he was following the contract process in July of last year when he said to reporters that he "never had something where more people are complaining." Trump cited complaints by Microsoft, Oracle and IBM. IBM and Oracle were previously eliminated from the contract process, which they both protested, but lost, in court.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has stood by its decision to award the JEDI cloud contract to Microsoft months after Amazon filed a legal challenge. AWS, which is far and away the public cloud leader, has maintained there were flaws in how the Pentagon awarded the contract.
AWS said in a statement on Tuesday that as a result of a Pentagon revision in September, which did fix at least one error, "the pricing differential swung substantially, with AWS now the lowest-priced bid by tens of millions of dollars."
"After the court rejected the flawed initial JEDI evaluation, the DoD spent over four months attempting to revive Microsoft’s non-compliant bid and reaffirm that flawed and politically-biased decision," according to an emailed statement from AWS spokesperson. "The fact that correcting just one error can move the needle that substantially demonstrates why it’s important that the DoD fix all of the evaluation errors that remain unaddressed, and ensure they are getting access to the best technology at the best price.
"We had made clear that unless the DoD addressed all of the defects in its initial decision, we would continue to pursue a fair and objective review, and that’s exactly where we find ourselves today.”
In January, Amazon filed a motion that sought to pause Microsoft's work on the Pentagon's cloud contract until a court ruled on its protest of how it was awarded. In February, a judge granted Amazon's request to halt the deal from moving forward, which still remains in place.
“Faced with the Court‘s February 2020 ruling that AWS was likely to succeed on the merits, DoD undertook corrective action amidst an increasingly corrupt environment in which President Trump has made clear that anyone in the federal government who does not do his bidding will face the most severe career reprisals," according to the complaint. "From Department of Justice prosecutors, to inspectors general of numerous federal agencies, to public health officials during the COVID-19 pandemic, actions adverse or perceived to be adverse to President Trump have resulted in demotion or, more often, dismissal.”
Microsoft has maintained that AWS realized its bid was too high the first time around, and subsequently amended its bid with a lower price.
“However, when looking at all the criteria together, the career procurement officials at the DoD decided that given the superior technical advantages and overall value, we continued to offer the best solution,” a Microsoft spokesman said, according to Bloomberg.
After numerous delays, Microsoft was awarded the Pentagon's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract on Oct. 25 of last year. The JEDI contract was supposed to be awarded in September of 2018, but some of the competing companies contended that Amazon had an unfair advantage. The process was slowed after several investigations and legal battles.
Amazon filed a notice in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in November of last year that said it planned to contest the Pentagon's decision to give Microsoft the cloud-computing contract.
When the decision was first announced, Amazon said in a statement that it was "the clear leader in cloud computing, and a detailed assessment purely on the comparative offerings clearly led to a different conclusion."
After becoming Secretary of Defense in July of last year, Mark Esper started reviewing the JEDI contract in August. Citing his son's work at IBM, Esper removed himself from the review of the Pentagon's JEDI cloud-computing contract in October of 2019 prior to it being awarded. Esper was fired by President Trump last month.
The company that is eventually awarded the contract will provide all the cloud computing for Department of Defense (DoD) data including personal statistics and intelligence information. Currently, the U.S. military uses more than 500 discrete clouds for sensitive information.