By John D. McKinnon
WASHINGTON -- Amazon.com Inc. said Thursday it would protest the
Pentagon's award of a massive cloud-computing contract to Microsoft
Corp. in October, throwing yet another wrench in the long-running
Amazon had long been the favorite to win the Joint Enterprise
Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, contract, which is valued at up to
$10 billion over the next decade. The Department of Defense
investigated and cleared Amazon of conflict-of-interest
allegations, but nonetheless ruled in the end that Microsoft was
more qualified for the job.
The company's cloud unit, Amazon Web Services, said in a
statement that it was "uniquely experienced and qualified to
provide the critical technology the U.S. military needs."
"Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear
deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias, and it's important
that these matters be examined and rectified," AWS said in the
"We also 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 comment appeared to be directed at President Trump, who on
July 19 called for an investigation of the Pentagon contract. "I'm
getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon
and Amazon," Mr. Trump told reporters at the time. "I will be
asking them to look very closely to see what's going on."
Amazon's comment Thursday suggested that Mr. Trump's interest in
the JEDI procurement could become an issue in its protest. Amazon
declined to comment beyond its statement. The White House and
Microsoft didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
"We will not speculate on potential litigation," a Defense
Department official said.
Amazon is filing its protest in the U.S. Court of Federal
Claims, where it earlier sided with the Pentagon against rival
Oracle Corp.'s protest over the JEDI procurement. Oracle, which was
eliminated from the competition, lost its protest and is currently
appealing the court's ruling.
The JEDI contract could be worth up to $10 billion over a
10-year period if the Pentagon exercises all options under the
deal, the Defense Department has said.
Microsoft and Amazon were the only remaining bidders after
several other companies including Oracle were eliminated from
The Pentagon has more than 500 separate clouds. JEDI is designed
to serve as an umbrella system to rationalize that number and
provide the military with access to services that better keep up
with the pace of technology in civilian markets.
"We must improve the speed and effectiveness with which we
develop and deploy modernized technical capabilities," Dana Deasy,
the Defense Department's chief information officer, said in a
statement after the award was announced.
In recent congressional testimony, Mr. Deasy denied that Mr.
Trump or the White House influenced the JEDI selection process.
The process for developing and awarding the JEDI contract has
been fraught almost from the beginning, amid multiple
conflict-of-interest allegations and legal challenges, as well as
concerns that opting for a single-source vendor might not be best
for the military.
Most of the concerns about the JEDI procurement process have
centered on allegations that Amazon had improperly influenced the
project development to improve its chances of winning. Amazon has
denied the allegations.
One issue that arose in the process was the role of Deap Ubhi,
who previously worked at Amazon's cloud division before going to
the Pentagon, where he worked on the JEDI program's development. He
later returned to work for AWS.
The Pentagon initially concluded that Mr. Ubhi "did not
negatively impact the integrity of the JEDI procurement" through
his work on the project, according to a Defense Department filing
earlier this year.
The alleged conflicts of interest led Oracle to file its legal
challenge with the Court of Federal Claims, which ultimately
rejected the company's concerns.
The Pentagon Inspector General's office began investigating the
procurement even before a ruling was made on the bid protest, and
the Defense Department formally referred some concerns to the
Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced his own top-to-bottom
review in early August, after President Trump voiced concerns about
JEDI and Amazon, a company he has frequently criticized during his
Mr. Esper said in October that he was withdrawing from reviewing
the contract to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. His
son worked for one of the original bidders, IBM Corp., that was no
longer in the running for the deal.
Write to John D. McKinnon at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 14, 2019 18:25 ET (23:25 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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