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Microsoft wins JEDI contract, Amazon complains. Amazon wins NSA contract, watchdog says Microsoft right to moan

US Government Audit Office upholds Redmond's protest

The US Government Accountability Office has agreed Microsoft was right to contest the award of the National Security Agency's $10bn cloud computing contact, saying it found parts of NSA's evaluation to be "unreasonable".

According to a GAO statement about the project, code-named "WildAndStormy" (or WandS), it "sustained the protest filed by the Microsoft Corporation." It added: "GAO found certain aspects of the agency's evaluation to be unreasonable and, in light thereof, recommended that NSA reevaluate the proposals consistent with the decision and make a new source selection determination."

WildAndStormy was won by Amazon Web Services in August, but Microsoft wasted no time in challenging the winning bid, just as AWS had done when Microsoft won the JEDI deal, itself also a $10bn decade-long single supplier agreement.

The decision by the GAO "expresses no view as to the relative merits of the AWS and Microsoft proposals," the statement adds.

Judgments about which offeror will most successfully meet the government's needs are reserved for the procuring agencies, subject only to statutory and regulatory procurement requirements. GAO's bid protest process is handled by GAO's Office of General Counsel and examines whether procuring agencies have complied with procurement laws and regulations.

So there it is - yet another twist in a series of highly contentious government cloud procurement processes stateside with AWS and Microsoft previously locking heads over a Department of Defense agreement.

The tale started in 2018 when the DoD decided to consolidate its 500-plus cloud storage instances used for intelligence gathering down to one, to be called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract, or JEDI.

After Google dropped out, and an additional three-week delay, the vendor selection process eliminated all but two rivals: Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS, which Oracle felt was unfair.

Even former president Donald Trump questioned Big Red's exclusion. It was doubtless a complete coincidence that he had recently wined and dined with Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz.

Since it turned out at least one former AWS staffer, Deap Ubhi, worked for the DoD, the deal went to Microsoft. Amazon sued over the choice, and the US Court for Federal Claims upheld its complaint. After two years of bickering, the JEDI contract was cancelled.

A scant month later, the National Security Agency awarded WildAndStormy, a different and in no way connected $10bn "secret" contract, to AWS.

The Friday decision is actually classified, because Microsoft's protest record included classified information (any thoughts on what that might be, readers?) The GAO is planning to release a sanitised public version at a later date.

What with all these rows over IT supply deals, some Pentagon brass must be feeling like they just can't win. ®

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