Amazon is accusing the government of bias after the Pentagon announced that they awarded the contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project to Microsoft, last month. The contract is worth over $10 billion and will last for a decade. Amazon was expected to receive the contract due to its existing cloud-computing contract with the CIA and their status as the leading cloud computing provider in the country. At the time when bidding began, Amazon was the only company that met the contract’s necessary qualifications. In spite of these qualifications, President Trump made a public statement that other companies should be able to bid on the contract. By the time bidding ended everyone but Microsoft and Amazon had dropped out. The JEDI contract award could affect the landscape of cloud computing and position Microsoft to receive more contracts going forward.
An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement that “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.” Amazon has plans to appeal the government’s decision in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, believing that Trump is partially responsible for the outcome of the bidding. Trump has publicly shown a dislike of Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post. The Washington Post is among those news organizations that Trump has accused of publishing fake news. The recently published book “Holding the Line,” written by a speechwriter for former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, says that Trump wanted to award the contract to a company other than Amazon. Experts in federal contracting say that it is not the president’s place to intervene in the bidding process.
The JEDI contract has already been delayed several months due to other accusations of bias which led to investigations. Among these was an accusation that the bidding was biased in Amazon’s favor because of Amazon’s pre-existing relationship with the Department of Defense. Oracle, who was also bidding on the contract, lost a suit it filed in the Court of Federal Claims alleging that there are regulations against a contract of this size being awarded to a single entity. Oracle’s appeal to this decision is still pending. Amazon’s allegations could cause the Pentagon to hold a review of the bidding process, which would cause a further delay to Microsoft starting work on the project. Amazon has stated that they believe they are the most qualified for the job, but a former Pentagon official has been quoted as saying that Microsoft’s bid “hit the ball out of the park.” When Microsoft was announced as the winner, the Department of Defense made a statement that they followed all laws and regulations and that all the bidders were evaluated fairly and consistently.