Amazon Lodges Formal Protest After Controversial 'JEDI' Contract Awarded To Microsoft

Following a surprise announcement in late October that the Pentagon had awarded a controversial cloud computing deal to Microsoft, Amazon on Thursday announced a formal appeal of the contract that was widely expected to go to them, according to CNBC.

"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 told CNBC in an email.

The $10 billion contract known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, was thought to be a lock for Amazon - so much so that a group of competitors including Oracle and IBM sued, alleging they were unfairly excluded from the bidding process. They eventually lost, allowing the DoD to move forward with either Amazon or Microsoft.

In July, however, the WSJ publicized new evidence showing that senior Amazon executives met with senior DoD officials, including then-Defense Secretary James Mattis, to discuss the project before the bidding even began, while the decision over the program was expected in August. 

Emails showed that on March 31, 2017, Mattis attended a dinner in London with Teresa Carlson, the Amazon executive in charge of selling cloud-computing services to governments. An organizer of the dinner said cloud computing never came up, however the meeting helped lay the groundwork for an August 2017 between Mattis and Bezos. It was also revealed that other Pentagon officials helped connect Carlson with Mattis's chief of staff and other senior Pentagon officials at around the same time.

A month after the WSJ report, the Pentagon's Inspector General launched a probe into whether there was any malfeasance during the bid process, including conflicts of interest, according to Bloomberg

In August, the Pentagon announced that Esper would review the JEDI deal after President Donald Trump said that he had received complaints from companies about the process. Trump said in July that companies conveyed that the specifications of the contract favored Amazon, according to Bloomberg.

I never had something where more people are complaining,” Trump said last month at the White House. “Some of the greatest companies in the world are complaining about it,” he added, naming Microsoft, Oracle and IBM. -CNBC

The contract was a big win for Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who has prioritized cloud computing.

"We’ve got to get this right, so we are not going to rush to a decision. We are going to spend whatever time the evaluation team needs to spend to make sure we are picking the best technical solution at the right price with the right criteria," said Pentagon chief information officer Dana Deasy during a closed-door media roundtable at the Pentagon.

"We don’t have an enterprise approach," Deasy added. "We have a bunch of siloed solutions we built. We have lots of vendors we’re using for cloud solutions, but we’ve never stepped back and created a holistic solution, and that is causing challenges out in the field."