Amazon said Thursday it will challenge a Pentagon contract awarded to Microsoft last month worth up to $10 billion, calling the decision-making process biased and tainted by “political influence.”
The Department of Defense had been mulling several bids for a cloud computing project known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, initiative. The long-delayed project is meant to update the Pentagon’s computing infrastructure because much of the agency’s technology still relies on systems from the 1980s and 1990s.
Many had expected the award to go to Amazon Web Services, which commands about 48% of the cloud computing market share. But the 10-year contract was instead awarded to Microsoft, which was something of a surprise to those following the bidding process. President Donald Trump, who has ramped up his attacks on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos over the past year, weighed in on the contract and said in July he had mulled over intervening in the award process.
“Great companies are complaining about it,” Trump said at the time, noting the contract was one of the “biggest” ever. “So we’re going to take a look at it. We’ll take a very strong look at it.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper recused himself from the bidding process earlier this year because his son works for IBM, one of the companies that bid on the contract.
Amazon formally filed notice last Friday to protest the decision, according to reports, saying the contract process contained “unmistakable bias.” The protest is being filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
“AWS is uniquely experienced and qualified to provide the critical technology the U.S. military needs, and remains committed to supporting the DoD’s modernization efforts,” a spokesperson for Amazon Web Services said in a statement to HuffPost. “We also believe it’s critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence. Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors and unmistakable bias and it’s important that these matters be examined and rectified.”
The Defense Department declined to comment on the matter to The Wall Street Journal, which was among the first to report the news.
The outlet notes the Pentagon has more than 500 separate cloud systems across the military, and JEDI is intended to unify them under one umbrella and help the agency keep up with developments in the civilian computing industry.