On Friday, the U.S. Department of Defense stood by its decision to award its $10 billion JEDI cloud contract to Microsoft months after Amazon filed a legal challenge. Despite the latest setback, Amazon said in its Friday blog that it would continue "pursuing a fair, objective, and impartial review" of the Pentagon's decision.
After numerous delays, Microsoft was awarded the Pentagon's 10-year 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, which had been viewed as the front-runner for the contract, filed a notice in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in November 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."
In January, Amazon filed a motion that sought to pause Microsoft's work on the Pentagon's JEDI contract until a court ruled on its protest of how it was awarded. The following month, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith issued an injunction that stopped Microsoft from working on the JEDI cloud contract.
In a court filing in March, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) said it "wishes to reconsider" the decision to award its $10 billion JEDI cloud contract to Microsoft. U.S. government lawyers asked a federal judge to grant the Pentagon “120 days to reconsider certain aspects of the challenged agency decision,” the DoD said in its filing to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
Amazon has said that Microsoft's Azure cloud infrastructure didn't meet the technical requirements set forth by the Pentagon. Over the course of the dust-up between Amazon and Microsoft, a federal judge did find that Amazon could likely prove the Department of Defense made at least one error, related to a storage requirement, in evaluating Microsoft's proposal.
Amazon has also long contended that President Donald Trump's dislike of Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos played a role in Microsoft winning the contract.
On Friday, the Department of the Defense said it had completed the re-evaluation of the JEDI cloud proposals, and that it had "determined that Microsoft's proposal continues to represent the best value to the government," according to the Pentagon's press release.
Amazon has vowed to continue to dispute how the contract was awarded to Microsoft. In its Friday blog, Amazon said President Trump has a well-documented history of rewarding political allies with government contracts.
The speech writer for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote in his book that Trump called Mattis in the summer of 2018, and directed him to "screw Amazon" out of a chance to bid on the contract, according to the website Task and Purpose. Mattis declined to do that, according to the book.
Aside of being the public cloud market leader, AWS was also considered the front-runner because it had built cloud services for the Central Intelligence Agency prior to Trump's reported interest in the contract.
"AWS remains deeply concerned that the JEDI contract award creates a dangerous precedent that threatens the integrity of the federal procurement system and the ability of our nation’s warfighters and civil servants to access the best possible technologies," according to its blog. "Others have raised similar concerns around a growing trend where defense officials act based on a desire to please the President, rather than do what’s right.
"We strongly disagree with the DoD’s flawed evaluation and believe it’s critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence. 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. Although these are not easy decisions to make, and we do not take them lightly, we will not back down in the face of targeted political cronyism or illusory corrective actions, and we will continue pursuing a fair, objective, and impartial review."