Amazon Files Court Complaint Over CIA Cloud Contract

The GAO, in sustaining the IBM protest, recommended the CIA reopen negotiations with the companies and gave the agency until Aug. 6 to decide whether to do so. The move by AWS, Seattle, comes just two weeks before that deadline.

The CIA chose AWS over IBM and other companies to build and operate a version of its "existing public cloud" that runs on the CIA's premises, according to a GAO report published in June.

[Related: Microsoft Isn't Worried That Amazon's CIA Cloud Deal Could Threaten Its Turf ]

IBM protested the CIA's decision to award the contract to AWS, arguing, among other issues, that the CIA failed to appropriately evaluate prices and unfairly waived a requirement in the request for proposals for AWS, according to the decision in June issued by the GAO.

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The protest filed by AWS is under seal. But Amazon said in a statement that it strongly believes the CIA got it right the first time.

"We believe that the CIA selected AWS based on AWS' technically superior, best value solution, which will allow the Agency to rapidly innovate while delivering the confidence and security assurance needed for mission-critical systems. We look forward to a fast resolution so the Agency can move forward with this important contract."

AWS, which in May this year received Federal Risk Authorization Management Program security certification, did not comment further about the petition.

An IBM spokesman said the company had no comment, and the CIA did not respond to CRN's request for comment.

Five companies submitted proposals to the CIA, including IBM, Microsoft, AT&T and AWS, according to the June 6 GAO report. One withdrew without being named.

Microsoft also challenged the CIA's decision, but the GAO did not uphold its arguments. The GAO upheld only IBM's arguments, namely that the agency had unfairly calculated pricing and relaxed a solicitation term only for AWS during negotiations after the initial selection, according to the GAO report. The GAO suggested the CIA reopen the bids to make sure the companies had a level playing field.

"We sustain the protest because the agency's adjustment of scenario prices was unreasonable in that it did not result in evaluation on a common basis, and because the agency materially relaxed a solicitation term for the awardee during post-selection negotiations," wrote Susan Poling, the government's general counsel, in the decision.