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JEDI Contract: Judge Declines To Dismiss AWS Allegations Of Trump Administration Interference In Award To Rival Microsoft

‘AWS continues to be the superior technical choice, the less expensive choice, and would provide the best value to the DOD and the American taxpayer,’ an AWS spokesperson says.

A U.S. judge has denied Microsoft’s and the U.S. Department of Justice’s requests to dismiss Amazon Web Services’ complaint that the Trump Administration allegedly interfered in the U.S. Department of Defense’s award of the potentially $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract to Microsoft.

In a sealed opinion and order filed with the U.S. Federal Court of Claims today, Judge Patricia Campbell denied the sealed motions to dismiss filed by Microsoft and the DOJ in November.

In a statement, AWS said it “continues to be the superior technical choice, the less expensive choice” for the contract, and that it would provide the “best value to the DOD and the American taxpayer.”

“The record of improper influence by former President Trump is disturbing, and we are pleased the court will review the remarkable impact it had on the JEDI contract award,” an AWS spokesperson said. “We continue to look forward to the court’s review of the many material flaws in the DOD’s evaluation, and we remain absolutely committed to ensuring that the department has access to the best technology at the best price.”

Judge Campbell ordered AWS, Microsoft and the DOJ to file a joint status report proposing a plan for further proceedings in the case by May 28. She also ordered them to file a proposed redacted version of her opinion, with any competition-sensitive or otherwise protected information blacked out, by that date.

Microsoft, in a statement from spokesman Frank Shaw, said the “procedural court ruling changes little.”

“Not once, but twice, professional procurement staff at the DOD chose Microsoft after a thorough review,” Shaw said. “Many other large and sophisticated customers make the same choice every week. We’ve continued for more than a year to do the internal work necessary to move forward on JEDI quickly, and we continue to work with DOD, as we have for more than 40 years, on mission-critical initiatives like supporting its rapid shift to remote work and the Army’s IVAS (Integrated Visual Augmentation System).”

The DOD could not be reached immediately for comment.

AWS is contesting the October 2019 award of the contract for the military’s digital transformation to Microsoft, its largest cloud computing competitor, alleging that the DOD erred in its technical evaluation of cloud providers’ bids for the contract, and that the White House under the Trump administration – including former President Trump himself – had undue political influence on the bid selection process.

In December, in an amended challenge to the JEDI award, AWS alleged that Trump’s “unapologetic bias” against Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos – also owner of The Washington Post -- tainted the awarding of the contract.

“Through his public statements and explicit and implicit directives to senior DOD officials, President Trump made known his unapologetic bias against Amazon and [Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff] Bezos and his fervent desire that AWS not be awarded the JEDI contract,” AWS alleged in the complaint,

A temporary restraining order halting Microsoft work on the contact was issued in February 2020 and remains in place.

Citing the prospect of continued lengthy litigation of the JEDI contract, the DOD in February said it may reassess its cloud computing procurement strategy, according to a letter the agency sent to Congress.

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