President Donald Trump on Thursday waded into the military's JEDI cloud procurement controversy, telling reporters at the White House that complaints from companies with unsuccessful bids have convinced him to intervene in the process.
"Some of the greatest companies in the world are complaining about it," the president said during a sit-down with the prime minister of the Netherlands, specifically citing Microsoft, Oracle and IBM.
The president's comments come less than a week after a federal judge threw out Oracle's lawsuit challenging the RFP process, and after Government Accountability Office investigations prompted by Oracle and IBM concluded no improprieties violated the integrity of the RFP process.
Trump repeated Oracle's refrain that the contract was crafted to favor AWS, and said he was "getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon."
Oracle, AWS and the Pentagon did not immediately comment on the president's statements.
Last April, after considering bids for the transformative military IT contract, the Pentagon announced AWS and Microsoft had been short-listed for the winner-take-all award, which, if the military exercises every option in the contract over ten years, could amount to $10 billion.
Oracle later said it would not quit fighting for a piece of the military's transformation project despite not having made the shortlist. Kenneth Glueck, an Oracle executive vice president who leads the company's government lobbying efforts, told Bloomberg News that Oracle will keep challenging the Defense Department's procurement process through its ongoing federal lawsuit and outreach to members of Congress.
Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing anonymous sources, that Trump had recently demanded more information about how the JEDI requirements were created by military officials, and that he was thinking about intervening in the procurement process.
After a year of bitter industry infighting over the contract, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure initiative looked close to selecting a hyper-scale cloud vendor that will supply all branches of the armed services with computing and storage resources, as well as advanced capabilities around artificial intelligence, security and Internet of Things.
Last Friday, Judge Eric Bruggink ruled in favor of the government and Amazon Web Services, which voluntarily joined the case as a co-defendant to protect its own interests, clearing what appeared the last potential obstacle to a final award.
In the short judgment, Bruggink wrote that a specific "gate criteria" for "high availability and failover"— one that Oracle argued exceeded the military's needs—can be enforced. Oracle conceded it could not meet that threshold when it submitted its bid last year, he noted.
The judge went on to find conflicts of interest did not undermine the integrity of the process. The investigation conducted by the Pentagon's contracting officer concluding there was no "organizational conflict of interest" and that "individual conflicts of interest did not impact the procurement" was done in a way that was "not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law," he said.
Even before that legal ruling came down from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Pentagon CIO Dana Deasy told reporters last month that the "source selection process" will be done by the end of August.
It was important for the military's plan to adopt a commercial cloud platform to not incur more delays, he said.
"If JEDI gets delayed, who suffers in all this is the warfighter because there is active sets of programs that several of the combatant commands right now are depending on when that contract gets released," Deasy said.
Further holdups will make it so those divisions within the armed forces have to go build independent cloud solutions—a model that "does not serve the department's interests well, it does not serve the warfighter well."
Trump has often criticized Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos in attacks stemming from Bezos' ownership of The Washington Post, a newspaper unaffiliated with Amazon that the president believes is unduly critical of his administration.