Amazon Web Services plans to seek a court ruling to prevent any substantive work orders being issued under the JEDI cloud computing contract while AWS appeals the US Department of Defense’s controversial October award of the US$10 billion project to Microsoft, its closest rival.
The news comes via a joint status report filed yesterday with the US Court of Federal Claims in relation to AWS’ protest of the bid award and what it considers a flawed selection process tainted by alleged politically motivated interference from the White House and US president Donald Trump.
AWS intends to file its motion for a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction on 24 January to prevent the “issuance of substantive task orders” under the contract, which the DoD previously said would begin 11 February, “given the United States’ consistent position that the services to be procured under the contract are urgently needed in support of national security.”
AWS, the No. 1-ranked cloud computing provider, is appealing the DoD’s award of the massive Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing contract to Microsoft. Potentially worth up to US$10 billion over 10 years, the contract is part of the DoD’s digital modernisation strategy for the military, and its award to Microsoft was seen as a giant upset for AWS, which was viewed as the frontrunner. Both were finalists for the contract.
AWS could not immediately be reached for comment today. In a redacted court complaint released in December, it said errors in the contract award process were the result of “arbitrary and capricious” decision-making.
“They were the result of improper pressure from President Donald J. Trump, who launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks to steer the JEDI contract away from AWS to harm his perceived political enemy -- Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder and CEO of AWS's parent company, Amazon.com Inc., and owner of the Washington Post,” AWS alleged in the complaint.
“Throughout the JEDI procurement process, based on AWS' depth of experience, superior technology and proven record of success in handling the most sensitive government data, AWS was the consensus frontrunner to aid DoD in this important modernisation effort,” AWS’ complaint stated.
“Yet when the time came to make the award, DoD chose Microsoft. Any meaningful review of that decision reveals egregious errors on nearly every evaluation factor, from ignoring the unique strengths of AWS's proposal, to overlooking clear failures in Microsoft's proposal to meet JEDI's technical requirements, to deviating altogether from DoD's own evaluation criteria to give a false sense of parity between the two offerors. These fundamental errors alone require reversal.”
Microsoft declined comment.
A Defense Department spokesperson said the DoD will continue to “fight to put this much-needed capability into the hands of our men and women in uniform as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
“Accordingly, DoD will strongly oppose any attempt to delay getting these urgently needed tools to our warfighters,” said USAF Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a DoD spokesperson. “The department remains confident in the JEDI award.”
The parties have agreed to an expedited briefing schedule on AWS’ proposal for the temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction and have asked for a court ruling by 11 February. The government and Microsoft plan to file their responses to AWS’ filing by 3 February.
DoD attorneys and Microsoft, meanwhile, each plan to file partial motions on 24 January to dismiss the AWS case that, if granted, “the United States and Microsoft contend would be dispositive of the claims that form the basis of AWS’s anticipated motion to supplement the record or for discovery,” the filing states. AWS is slated to file that motion on Friday.
AWS and Microsoft also have designated attorneys with necessary clearances to review the “very small” amount of classified information in the case by the end of the week, according to the filing.