US judge puts Amazon's challenge to Pentagon JEDI deal into force stasis

Giving military time to look at aspects of decision

US federal judge Patricia Campbell-Smith has slapped a hold [PDF] on Amazon's legal challenge to the $10bn Pentagon Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract to give the military time to "reconsider... aspects of the procurement" in the mega-contract.

Microsoft was awarded the winner-takes-all 10-year contract to provide cloud computing services to the US Department of Defense (DoD) in October last year. AWS challenged the decision in court, and on 13 February was granted an injunction by the Court of Federal Claims, which means that work on the contract is paused.

The contract itself requires one supplier to spend 10 years hauling the Pentagon onto cloud-based platforms as part of the DoD Digital Modernization Strategy. Earlier in the process, before Microsoft won the bid, Oracle and some of its cloud supplier pals had argued that the single bidder requirement was a "conflict-ridden mess" where only "the two largest global cloud providers can clear the qualification gates."

The new order, made on Friday and filed at the weekend, puts AWS's challenge to the deal being awarded to Microsoft on ice until 17 August, although if the review is delivered sooner or later, the date will be amended.

The judge's order comes just days after the DoD's inspector general issued a 317-page report [PDF] stating the Defense Department had followed procedure, although it did note that Amazon's claim - hastily filed in November - is based on confidential information accidentally leaked by a DoD official.

AWS alleges that Microsoft won because of "political influence" and "unmistakable bias", and in December 2019, it officially accused US President Donald Trump of applying pressure to the Pentagon not to award the massive IT contract to shift the Pentagon to cloud-based platforms.

Back in March, the court ruled [PDF] that AWS was "likely to demonstrate" that the DoD "improperly evaluated" the Azure giant's proposal, stating:

Specifically the Plaintiff [Amazon] contends that as a result of intervenor-defendant’s “noncompliant storage solution,” DOD “should have found [intervenor-defendant’s] technical approach unfeasible, assigned a deficiency, and eliminated Microsoft from the competition..

In a nutshell, AWS alleged that Microsoft's proposal around a type of online storage offered in "Price Scenario 6", was not technically compliant with the DoD's stated requirements, and should have therefore been pulled out of the running.

The DoD asked for the stay last month. ®

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