Amazon has been accused of being a monopoly. They have access to more data than most governments. They also have a significant amount of money, taking on such markets as toys, groceries, and more. Now, they have decided to flex some of that power by suing the Pentagon over a cloud computing contract.
Amazon is taking the Pentagon to court over a decision to award Microsoft with a contract worth up to $10 billion. Their claim is that the JEDI program’s selection process had political influence and “unmistakable” bias.
The JEDI program is the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Program. The Pentagon named Microsoft as the winner last month following Pres. Trump publicly questioning whether the competition unfairly favored Amazon.
Amazon Web Services said that various aspects of the evaluation process contained deficiencies, errors, and bias. They want to make sure that the matters are not only examined but also rectified.
The protest has been filed with the US Court of Federal Claims, which is one of the latest hurdles for the contentious program. The JEDI program has experienced a number of protests and lawsuits as well as a Department of Defense Inspector General investigation.
Oracle was another contender for the program but was cut from the competition. They, too, filed an appeal with the US Court of Appeals following a judge ruling against the allegations that the contract limited competition unfairly. Oracle is also looking at getting an injunction to prevent Microsoft from starting any work on the program while the case is properly tried.
Amazon identifies that it is “uniquely experienced” to provide the technology that the United States military needs. Additionally, a spokesperson says that they remain committed to supporting the modernization efforts of the Department of Defense. The company also adds that they believe that it is critical for the US government and its elected leaders to administer all procurements objectively and in a way that is free from any kind of political influence.
When the government is getting ready to issue any kind of contract, they send out a Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFP will identify all of the details regarding the project, including what they are looking for and specifics as to what kind of company is capable of getting the contract.
Due to the nature of the Pentagon project, it wouldn’t be open to just anyone. They wouldn’t be sent to small contractors or companies. Instead, they were only sent to large companies, such as Oracle, Amazon, and Microsoft.
Microsoft has been in the business of providing cloud computing services for decades – and there are a number of government organizations that already use the software. While Amazon may have been able to provide the necessary cloud services for the JEDI program, it is not far off to say that Microsoft was just as qualified to do so, particularly because Microsoft provides so many other programs and services throughout the government.
However, with both Amazon and Oracle filing grievances regarding the selection process of the JEDI program, it begs the question as to whether there was some foul play going on in terms of the selection. President Trump questioning the process publicly likely didn’t help matters as Amazon is now turning it into a political debate when it shouldn’t.
Amazon has been accused on multiple occasions of not being bipartisan. Now, they want to make the fact that they didn’t get a $10 billion contract into a political ploy, accusing the Pentagon that it was all about political influence.
Microsoft, of course, isn’t complaining. Although they’ve been accused of having a monopoly, too, they responded to the RFP, proved that they could provide the necessary cloud computing services, and were awarded the contract.
With Oracle wanting to file an injunction so that Microsoft cannot begin working on the project, they’re also showing that they’re willing to let the needs of the government be put on hold while they work out their tiff. The JEDI program cannot be launched without the cloud support – and if Microsoft cannot work on it, there’s a holding pattern that could take months to figure out.
Three large companies with a significant amount of power are bound to run into problems where one gets a big contract and the others feel slighted. Particularly with a $10 billion contract up for grabs, it’s no surprise that there are fingers being pointed about an unfair process. In the end, as long as the Pentagon followed a proper RFP process, they have the ability to choose who they want. Amazon may have to realize that they don’t get their way all the time.