Amazon protests JEDI defense contract award to Microsoft, wants to “shine a light” on decision

Kareem Anderson

When the Pentagon announced it was hosting open pitches for its next cloud partner to help propelle its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) for the next ten years and to the tune of $10 billion, everyone involved understood there would be winners and losers while vying for the coveted contract.

With Microsoft emerging the winner of the JEDI contract after months of controversial jockeying by companies, lawsuits and governmental scrutiny, it now seems some of those losers still have issues with the outcome.

According to the Federal Times, Amazon Web Services has filed a protest of the Pentagon’s decision to award Microsoft the JEDI contract last Friday with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

While it may outwardly seem like a move by a company with sour grapes about losing a huge client, AWS CEO Andy Jassy does have some reason to question the outcome as a late-stage curveball was thrown into the bidding process by the White House.

Just months before the Department of Defense was set to finalize its decision, United States President Donald Trump sought to delay the process by inserting an additional layer of oversight and investigation into how the JEDI contract would be awarded.

I think when you have a sitting president who’s willing to publicly show his disdain for a company and the leader of a company, it’s very difficult for government agencies including the DoD to make an objective decision without fear of reprisal.

Trump, who has been a vocal critic of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos seemingly put his thumb on the scale due in part to a lawsuit filed by Oracle sighting several conflicts of interest between the way the JEDI contract bid process was established and former Amazon employees heading the decision committee.

In an all-hands meeting, Jassy claims the complaint is being filed to “push the government to shine a light on what really happened,” regarding Microsoft’s win of the JEDI contract and he doesn’t mince words as to his feelings about Microsoft’s inability to satisfy the requirements of the contract.

We feel pretty strongly that it wasn’t adjudicated fairly. I think that if you do any thorough, apples-to-apples, objective comparison of AWS versus Microsoft you don’t come out deciding that they’re comparable platforms. Most of our customers will tell us that we’re about 24 months ahead of Microsoft in functionality and maturity.

Depending on where this complaint ends up, there will be a lot to unpack from an investigation into the JEDI decision that will include Microsoft’s seemingly big upset over Amazon Web Services, how Oracle’s claims that the contract was originally written to favor AWS from the onset and how former Amazon employees working in the DoD play into ethical concerns flagged by the DoD.

As through most of this murky process, Microsoft continues to remain tight-lipped and offered no comment when questioned by the Financial Times regarding this new turn of events.