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Judge Rejects Oracle's Attempt To See Internal JEDI Cloud Docs, Depose Two Witnesses With AWS Ties

The federal government, and AWS, score a win in their attempts to keep Oracle from accessing information to support its claims of a flawed procurement process for the military's $10 billion cloud computing initiative.

A federal judge has rejected Oracle's request to see some internal documents that were part of the military's JEDI cloud computing initiative procurement process and depose two witnesses the computing giant argued had conflicts of interest in favor of rival Amazon Web Services.

The order written by Judge Eric Bruggink, released Monday after it was first issued under seal last week, finds Oracle did not demonstrate the existing administrative record of JEDI procurement is incomplete, or there are grounds to conduct discovery during what remains an "early evaluation period" for the contract.

The order was unsealed after AWS attorneys said they didn't want any redactions to the order before it was made public.

[Related: Dossier Focus Of Smear Campaign Against AWS In Its JEDI Cloud Bid: Report]

Oracle declined comment to CRN. AWS has yet to respond.

Oracle has made three arguments in its lawsuit: the winner-take-all nature of the potentially $10 billion award violates the law and lacks rational basis, three of the "gate criteria" vendors need to satisfy exceed the Pentagon's needs and restrict competition and the government's "contracting officer" in the JEDI process didn't properly investigate potential conflicts of interest.

Regarding the issues of gate criteria and conflicts of interests, Oracle sought to conduct discovery of internal documents for possible additions to the JEDI administrative record, and to depose two Pentagon officials: Anthony DeMartino and Deap Ubhi.

The "bulk of Oracle's motion," the judge wrote, "is aimed at uncovering additional evidence that Mr. DeMartino and Mr. Ubhi had a conflict of interest that would affect procurement."

Ubhi served as JEDI project manager at the DoD, but previously worked for AWS; DeMartino, chief of staff for the Deputy Secretary of Defense, was a consultant for AWS before being tapped by the DoD.

AWS, which voluntarily joined the suit as a co-defendant of the federal government, recently argued both their roles in the JEDI process were "wildly overstated."

Oracle sought eights types of documents that it argued should have been included in the original record of the procurement process.

They include any documents involving DeMartino, Ubhi, or Sally Donnelly, formerly a senior advisor to former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, that relate to the preparation of a DoD memorandum from September of 2017 called "Accelerating Enterprise Cloud Adoption."

Oracle also wanted to see documents related to the trio’s involvement in Mattis' visit to Amazon's Seattle campus in 2017, as well as any communications the three had with AWS.

Oracle also asked the court to grant access to a Google Drive folder—or at least an index of its documents and metadata—that shed more light on who prepared documents involving the JEDI initiative.

The government, and Amazon, opposed those requests.

The court just needed to answer whether the agency "reviewed the proper materials, asked the right questions, and articulated sufficient reasoning for its decision on the conflicts of interest," the judge wrote. His order notes Ubhi recused himself from the procurement process due to AWS expressing interest in acquiring a business he founded.

The "contracting officer" considered appropriate information to determine conflicts of interest did not impact the process, even if "it may be that " she should have considered more information, Judge Bruggink ruled.

The contracting officer, not named in the order, is Chanda Brooks.

AWS has argued Oracle is misstating key facts about the military's cloud services procurement process.

Amazon's partly redacted opposition motion challenged Oracle's claims about how decisions were made to go with a single vendor for the entirety of the award, the "gate criteria" that vendors vying for the contract must satisfy, and the potential conflicts of interest that had already been investigated, and rejected, by the Government Accountability Office.

The flaws in Oracle's claims start with its characterizations of the winner-take-all nature of the award, according to the motion filed by Daniel Forman of Crowell & Moring, a law firm based in Washington D.C.

Choosing a single vendor, as opposed to taking a multi-cloud approach, was a decision approved at high levels of the Pentagon to "Meet the Needs of the Warfighter."

That decision, specifically, was made by the Under Secretary of Defense—and no allegations of bias have made against her.

As to three of the seven "gate criteria" Oracle argues are beyond the government's actual needs and solely designed to eliminate Amazon's competitors, the Deputy Director of the Defense Digital Services has already justified all of them. He too has not been accused of any bias.

While not named in Amazon's motion, those military officials are Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment; and Tim Van Name, the deputy director of Defense Digital Services.

"As Oracle gained access to more documents and information, it stitched together a self-serving narrative from snippets of e-mails and informal Slack messages to create the impression that the purported bias of Mr. Ubhi and Mr. DeMartino impacted the single-award determination and/or resulted in adoption of the purportedly unduly restrictive Gate Criteria," Amazon's opposition motion reads.

Oracle's complaint is "replete with mischaracterizations and over-exaggerations of the roles that these two individuals played in the JEDI Cloud procurement."

All the relevant decisions throughout the process, however, are thoroughly, contemporaneously documented in a "voluminous" administrative record, AWS argued.

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