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Another JEDI saga that doesn't need a sequel: Oracle petitions Supreme Court over Microsoft Pentagon contract

Big Red and Amazon just can't let $10bn cloud award go

Oracle has filed a fresh petition with the Supreme Court of the United States, opening another chapter in its year-long battle with the Pentagon over the award of a $10bn Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract to Microsoft.

Big Red had been told by the Federal Circuit in September last year that the Department of Defense's failure to follow procurement law when it made the JEDI deal a single-award contract was a "harmless error."

The court also concluded that conflicts of interest relating to former DoD employees' relationships with AWS had not "tainted" the deal.

That conclusion confirmed an earlier finding by the US Court of Federal Claims that although there was a legal error in the single-source approach, "Oracle would not have been able to satisfy the requirements" to have at least three commercial cloud-hosting data centres within the US, separated by at least 150 miles, along with various other security standards.

In May this year, the US government recommended that the Supreme Court should reject Oracle's efforts.

Now Oracle lawyers have directly petitioned the Supreme Court, claiming the original case contained important "mistakes of law, not fact," and should be heard.

The petition claimed that three DoD employees became conflicted due to their connections to AWS, one of the bidders for the JEDI Cloud contract.

"One employee had previously worked at the 'offeror,' another had accepted employment at the 'offeror,' and [Department of Defense employee Deap] Ubhi had done both. What Amazon omits is that, in each instance, the unnamed 'offeror' was none other than Amazon itself," the filing alleged.

The Supreme Court should hear the case "to protect bedrock separation-of-powers principles" and to "reaffirm the judiciary's critical role in protecting accountability and integrity in government contracting," Oracle's legal team said.

To recap, Amazon also lost the bid for the contract, which was won by Microsoft in October 2019. Following an internal review, the DoD reconfirmed the decision in September 2020, after which Amazon published a blistering blogpost describing the award as a "flawed, biased, and politically corrupted decision" and alleging it had been directly and improperly influenced by then US President Donald Trump.

To complicate matters further, Amazon also petitioned the Supreme Court in June as a co-defendant to avoid making a decision over the contract because it contained disputes over matters of fact rather than disputes over points of law.

The filing said the "alleged personal conflicts of interest (which concern the actions of DoD employees, not the actions of AWS)... had no effect on Oracle's exclusion from the competitive range."

Yes, two megacorps that missed out on a $10bn contract are paying lawyers god-knows-what to argue why the other should not be able to contest the award. Since Oracle seemed never to have had a chance at winning the deal in the first place, a reasonable person might wonder why it is lining the pockets of its legal team on a litigious wild goose chase. Unless its motives are to have arch-rival Amazon's behaviour aired in court. But that would be pure speculation. ®

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