Federal judge halts Microsoft’s Pentagon cloud contract in response to Amazon lawsuit
Amazon filed an appeal against the decision of the US Department of Defense to conclude a major contract with Microsoft.
Amazon was the favorite in the competitive race for this $ 10 billion deal.
The company, which already provides cloud computing to the US Central Intelligence Agency, said the decision was made by the Pentagon due to political pressure..
In July, President Donald Trump threatened to intervene after what he called «huge complaints».
Trump attacked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post, who criticized his tenure as president.
Trump publicly ridiculed Amazon’s bid for the contract, calling their rates too high.
Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassi said it would be difficult for the US Department of Defense to objectively conclude a contract as the president offends one of the bidders.
After that, the Pentagon postponed a decision on the contract until October 25, and then it was announced that the contractor would be Microsoft..
U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper says the competition was fair.
«I am sure that it was carried out freely and fairly without any outside influence.», – he told reporters.
The Joint Enterprise Infrastructure Project, known as JEDI, is designed to modernize legacy communications and data systems in the US military. The contract is considered particularly beneficial if other government departments follow the lead of the Department of Defense in upgrading their systems..
JEDI will store and process massive amounts of classified data, allowing the US military to use artificial intelligence to accelerate its military planning and combat capabilities..
An Amazon spokesman told the BBC: «Amazon Web Services is uniquely experienced and qualified to provide the mission-critical technology needed by the US military and remains committed to supporting the Department of Defense’s modernization efforts».
«We also believe that it is imperative for our country that the government and its elected leaders manage procurement objectively and in a way that does not have political influence.», – he added.
«Numerous aspects of the JEDI assessment process contained clear flaws, errors and unmistakable bias – and it is important that these issues are addressed and corrected.», – emphasized the Amazon spokesman.
Microsoft did not respond to BBC request for comment.
Four companies initially competed for the contract. IBM dropped out, as did Oracle – which filed a legal complaint alleging there was a conflict of interest over the hiring of two former Defense Department employees at Amazon. Both are said to have been involved in the JEDI development process..
Stephen Shuner, professor of public procurement law at George Washington University, believes Trump’s comments were «inappropriate», but believes it will be difficult for Amazon to prove that the White House exerted undue pressure in a way that mattered.
Amazon said it has filed its appeal with the US Federal Court, which deals with financial claims against the federal government. Amazon’s lawsuits will allow him to request documents from the government as evidence in his case.