USA defense chief says cloud contract was fair, despite Amazon challenge

  • USA defense chief says cloud contract was fair, despite Amazon challenge

USA defense chief says cloud contract was fair, despite Amazon challenge

This begins a new chapter in the protracted and contentious battle over the biggest cloud-computing contract in US history - called JEDI, for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure - worth up to $10 billion over 10 years.

Amazon has submitted a notice to the Court of Federal Claims indicating it will protest the Pentagon's decision. The company is appealing the contract at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

The Department of Defense declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The 10-year contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure program, better known as JEDI, ultimately will see all military branches sharing information in a system boosted by artificial intelligence. The project is created to consolidate the Defense Department's cloud computing infrastructure and modernize its technology systems. When the decision was first announced on October 25, 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".

It is crucial for the country that the government and its elected leaders govern procurements impartially and without any political influence, Amazon said.

In a statement Thursday, Amazon said "numerous aspects" of the bidding process involved "clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias". "Some of the greatest companies in the world are complaining about it, having to do with Amazon and the Department of Defense", he added. President Donald Trump has long criticized Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos.

Following the events, the Pentagon in August announced that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper would review the JEDI contract.

"I am confident that it was conducted freely and fairly without any type of outside influence", Esper said at a news conference in Seoul, South Korea.

Trump surprised the industry earlier this year when he openly questioned whether the contract was being competitively bid, citing complaints from Microsoft, Oracle and International Business Machines Corp.

In a new book, the speech writer for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote 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 objective. Mattis didn't do what Trump asked, Snodgrass wrote. Amazon offered at least two former Pentagon officials jobs while they were working on the procurement, according to the lawsuit.

The Pentagon awarded the contract to Microsoft in late October, and Amazon said there was "unmistakable bias" on the government's part and it meant to challenge the decision in court.

JEDI involves providing cloud services to store sensitive military data and technology to the Department of Defense, part of the Pentagon's efforts to modernize its storage platforms. The company will protest the decision in court as it believes it contains some political elements of bias to it.