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Pentagon taking 120 days to reconsider Microsoft’s JEDI contract after Amazon lawsuit

The Pentagon in Arlington county, Va. (Dreamstime/TNS)
March 15, 2020

The Pentagon is taking 120 days to reconsider which company to award a $10 billion contract to develop a vast, cloud-computing network for soldiers across the globe after Amazon sued the Defense Department.

The Defense Department “wishes to reconsider its award decision,” U.S. government lawyers wrote in a court filing on Thursday, as the Associated Press reported Friday. The DoD will reevaluate technical aspects of the companies’ proposals to run the computing project called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project (JEDI).

The JEDI project will store massive amounts of classified Defense Department data in cloud computers, giving soldiers on the battlefield instant access on their tablets and other devices to much more information than they would with standard hard drives that have limited storage capacity.

When Microsoft won the award for the contract in October, Amazon sued the Pentagon and the project’s development has been halted ever since.

Microsoft and Amazon both have competitive cloud computing programs; Amazon’s is called Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s is called Azure.

Amazon claimed in its lawsuit the company didn’t receive full considerations because its founder, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post, which has battled with Trump for years ever since he won the presidency. Notably, the publication added the slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness” after Trump won the 2016 election. Trump has often accused Amazon of abusing the U.S. Postal Service for delivering Amazon packages, too.

Amazon’s claim that the Pentagon was biased against them was omitted from the U.S. federal government lawyers’ justification for the reconsideration.

Instead, the lawyers want the Pentagon to reconsider technical aspects fo the awarding process after a federal judge claimed Amazon’s lawsuit had merit on technical grounds involving pricing.

The Pentagon also would reevaluate the providers’ “online marketplace offerings” and “reconsider its award decision in response to the other technical challenges presented by AWS,” CNBC reported.

“We are pleased that the DoD has acknowledged ‘substantial and legitimate’ issues that affected the JEDI award decision, and that corrective action is necessary. We look forward to complete, fair, and effective corrective action that fully insulates the re-evaluation from political influence and corrects the many issues affecting the initial flawed award,” a spokesman for Amazon Web Services said in a statement.

A spokesman for Microsoft said the company believes the Pentagon made its original decision correctly, adding, “However, we support their decision to reconsider a small number of factors as it is likely the fastest way to resolve all issues and quickly provide the needed modern technology to people across our armed forces. Throughout this process, we’ve focused on listening to the needs of the DoD, delivering the best product, and making sure nothing we did delayed the procurement process. We are not going to change this approach now.”