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Federal Judge Eyes New Conflict Claims In Oracle’s JEDI Cloud Contract Suit

A Department of Defense spokesperson says the agency ‘can confirm that new information not previously provided to DOD has emerged related to potential conflicts of interest.’

A federal judge on Tuesday issued a stay in a case that has Oracle contesting the bidding process around the Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud computing contract as new information emerged around possible conflicts of interest.

Oracle had previously argued in its lawsuit that the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract procurement process was rife with conflicts of interest between the Pentagon and Amazon Web Services, which is also competing for the valuable contract.

[RELATED LINK: Oracle Slams AWS 'Conflicts Of Interest' In JEDI Cloud Lawsuit]

U.S. Court of Federal Claims Senior Judge Eric Bruggink wrote that the court granted the stay in the case while the Department of Defense reconsiders whether “possible personal conflicts of interest impacted the integrity of the JEDI Cloud procurement. The government is directed to file a status report within five days of a final decision by DoD.”

DoD spokesperson Elissa Smith said that the agency “can confirm that new information not previously provided to DOD has emerged related to potential conflicts of interest. As a result of this new information, DOD is continuing to investigate these potential conflicts.” Smith did not say whether those potential conflicts relate to AWS or any other company.

CRN has reached out to AWS for comment. Oracle declined to comment on the judge’s order.

The Redwood City, Calif. tech giant filed a lawsuit last December against the federal government related to the DoD’s lucrative JEDI cloud contract. The complaint was filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, a court that typically hears monetary claims against the U.S. government.

Oracle, in addition to arguing against awarding a cloud contract to a single vendor, had previously claimed the government hasn't adequately investigated the role two "heavily-conflicted" former officials played in establishing the JEDI contract's onerous requirements, according to Oracle.

Deap Ubhi served as JEDI project manager at the DoD, but previously worked for Amazon Web Services and has since gone back to Amazon. CRN has reached out to Ubhi for comment. Anthony DeMartino, chief of staff for the Deputy Secretary of Defense, was a consultant for AWS before being tapped by the DoD.

“While engaged in the JEDI Cloud procurement, Ubhi held discussions with AWS regarding AWS buying one of Ubhi’s businesses, and had employment discussions with AWS,” the complaint alleges.

Oracle stated that Ubhi was involved in “highly technical” discussions with JEDI Cloud competitors, including Microsoft and Google, and “drove the single award decision.” At the same time, Oracle claims, Ubhi’s messages on Slack shared with other members of the DDS team were “riddled with inappropriate comments about competitors, DoD personnel and others, raising significant questions about the propriety of this procurement.”

In a series of Slack messages on Oct. 5, 2017, Ubhi allegedly insulted one of the Under Secretary’s deputies, Jane Rathbun, after she referred favorably to Microsoft: “Role playing: I’m Jane R./holy sh[*]t, SaaS is the holy grail, they [Microsoft] do it all for us!” “She compared Office 365 with AWS.” “We’ve got some real dum dums in here, their names usually begin with J…”

Meanwhile, according to the complaint, DeMartino, a former AWS consultant, advocated “procurement positions, including single source” and participated in JEDI Cloud meetings — in violation of conflict restrictions of the U.S. code, the code of federal regulations and his executive order ethics pledge.

In December, AWS, at its own request, joined as a co-defendant in the lawsuit, saying it had an interest in intervening to defend itself against Oracle's allegations.

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