New court filings reveal that the Department of Defense wants to “reconsider certain aspects” of its decision to award Microsoft with the coveted $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract.
The latest legal development is part of Amazon’s protest over the prestigious cloud computing deal, known as JEDI. Amazon Web Services sued the federal government after Microsoft emerged as the surprise winner of the JEDI contract last year.
In the new filing, a motion for voluntary remand, the DoD said that it “wishes to reconsider its award decision in response to the other technical challenges presented by AWS.” The DoD is asking for 120 days to assess the matter. It wants to specifically examine one issue related to “online marketplace offerings.”
“We are pleased that the DoD has acknowledged ‘substantial and legitimate’ issues that affected the JEDI award decision, and that corrective action is necessary,” an AWS spokesperson said in a statement. “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 Pentagon spokeswoman, Rachel VanJohnson, told the Washington Post that the process of evaluating the bids was “fair and unbiased.”
“While we disagree with the Court’s decision, we must address the findings in the Court’s Order with the intent of ensuring our warfighters will get this urgent and critically needed technology as quickly and efficiently as possible,” she said. “As such, the Department determined that the best and most efficient path forward is to conduct a re-evaluation of the proposals in order to address the Court’s noted concerns.”
Amazon has claimed that President Donald Trump’s personal animus toward Amazon improperly influenced the outcome of the JEDI competition.
A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction last month preventing Microsoft and the Pentagon from proceeding with work on the contract pending the outcome of Amazon’s legal challenge. Amazon alleges that Microsoft’s “noncompliant storage solution” allowed its rival to offer an artificially low price for the capability, leading to an unfair advantage.
“We believe the Department of Defense made the correct decision when they awarded the contract,” Microsoft spokesperson Frank Shaw said in a statement. “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.
“Over two years the DoD reviewed dozens of factors and sub factors and found Microsoft equal or superior to AWS on every factor. We remain confident that Microsoft’s proposal was technologically superior, continues to offer the best value, and is the right choice for the DoD.”
The JEDI contract involves overhauling the DoD’s technology infrastructure, allowing different branches of the military to share sensitive information in the cloud, while incorporating artificial intelligence technology. Amazon was considered a favorite to win the contract, which attracted other bidders including Oracle, IBM, and Google.
Here is the motion for voluntary remand:
Updated on Feb. 13 with Pentagon statement.