Amazon filed a motion in the US Federal Court of Claims to temporarily halt Microsoft’s work on the US Department of Defense (DOD) JEDI digital transformation contract while the courts consider the company’s arguments that the award process was flawed due to political interference.
In the latest episode of the DoD Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract saga, Amazon Web Services (AWS) petitioned the U.S. Federal Claims Court to suspend work on the cloud engagement while the Claims Court evaluates whether the contracting process was fair.
The move comes two months after Amazon initially filed suit in Federal Court arguing the contract was not awarded fairly. In a November video, AWS CEO Andrew Jassy pressed the Pentagon to “shine a light on what really happened.” Jassy claimed multiple aspects of the evaluation process were deficient and subject to error.
He also cited “unmistakable bias” creating interference in the adjudication of the $10 billion contract. This is a direct reference to President Donald Trump’s comments in July that he was going to investigate the process. Trump told reporters at the time he was “getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and Amazon.” AWS’ Jassy said that when a sitting President interjects an opinion about a deal publicly, it is very difficult for the agency “to make an objective decision without fear of reprisal.”
The President has a famously contentious relationship with Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, AWS’ parent. Bezos also owns The Washington Post which has been critical of the President and his policies.
The JEDI bid process has attracted many critics. Amazon rival Oracle, which also filed suit contesting the contract award to Microsoft, argued that the single award nature of the contract runs counter to the industry trend to source cloud services from multiple cloud providers for redundancy and price control.
An Amazon spokesman said that the company delayed filing the work stoppage petition at the Defense Department’s request. The Courts will need to rule on whether to delay work on JEDI, and separately, whether the contract was awarded fairly.