- Amazon blames President Donald Trump’s alleged bias for the Pentagon’s decision to award a $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft despite its own “technical superiority,” a newly unsealed court document reveals.
- Microsoft was selected on October 25 for the deal to move the Department of Defense’s sensitive data to the cloud. Amazon is challenging the decision in the US Court of Federal Claims.
- While Amazon has made public statements alleging bias from the Trump administration, the exact basis of the company’s lawsuit was unclear because its original complaint is under seal.
- New details about the complaint became available when the judge in the case on Thursday unsealed a transcript of a meeting between lawyers from Amazon, Microsoft and the Department of a Defense.
- According to the transcript, Amazon argues Microsoft was selected despite Amazon’s “depth of experience, superior technology, and proven record of success in handling the most sensitive government data” and blames alleged bias from the Trump administration.
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Amazon formally blamed President Donald Trump’s alleged bias for the Pentagon’s decision to award a $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft despite its own “technical superiority” in its lawsuit challenging the contract, according to a newly unsealed court document.
Microsoft was selected on October 25 for the controversial deal, called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, to move the Department of Defense’s sensitive data to the cloud.
The contract is worth as much as $10 billion over a 10-year span, and Amazon Web Services had been considered an almost certain choice to win it because of the company’s market-dominant position and high security clearance.
“DoD’s failure to fairly credit [Amazon’s] technical superiority was not merely the result of arbitrary and capricious decision-making, but rather Plaintiff contends that the procurement process was compromised and negatively affected by the bias expressed publicly by the President and Commander in Chief Donald Trump against Plaintiff,” the judge presiding over the case wrote in a newly unsealed transcript, in which the judged summarized Amazon’s complaint.
While Amazon has pointed to Trump’s influence in its public comments criticizing the Pentagon’s contract, it has not been clear if the allegations would be part of Amazon’s legal challenge as well.
Amazon is challenging the Pentagon’s decision in the US Court of Federal Claims, but the exact basis of the company’s claim was unclear because its original complaint is under seal. New details about the complaint became available when the judge in the case unsealed a transcript Thursday of a meeting between lawyers from Amazon, Microsoft and the Department of a Defense.
Amazon wants the court to declare the DoD’s decision as “arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law” and grant a permanent injunction the prevents the agency from moving forward with the award to Microsoft without a new evaluation and award decision.
According to the summary of Amazon’s complaint provided by the judge in the transcript, Amazon argues that Microsoft was selected despite Amazon’s “depth of experience, superior technology, and proven record of success in handling the most sensitive government data” and blamed alleged bias from the Trump administration.
The JEDI decision
The surprise JEDI contract decision was regarded by experts as “a huge feather in the cap for Microsoft” and a “black eye for Amazon and Bezos.” But some suspect political interference from President Donald Trump, who has publicly feuded with Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos.
Trump reportedly wanted to “scuttle” the bidding process for JEDI for fear that Amazon Web Services might win, and a forthcoming book also alleges Trump last year ordered former Defense Secretary James Mattis to “screw Amazon” out of the deal.
AWS CEO Andy Jassy told employees last month, according to a recording obtained by Business Insider, that the company’s technology is at least two years ahead of Microsoft’s.
“We feel pretty strongly that it was not adjudicated fairly,” Jassy said, pointing to what he said was Trump’s “disdain” for the company. “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.
The JEDI bidding process has been under scrutiny since before the Pentagon made its decision.
Amazon’s lawsuit comes after Oracle earlier challenged the JEDI bidding process, arguing it was “riddled with improprieties” that largely favored Amazon — including undisclosed employment and bonus offers to Department of Defense officials — and that the Pentagon set unfair criteria.
A federal-claims judge ultimately rejected Oracle’s protest and denied the company’s bid to be reconsidered for the contract, finding “individual conflicts of interest did not impact the procurement.” Which is to say, the judge in the case acknowledged that there were conflicts but found that they didn’t unfairly tilt the playing field.
Amazon, according to the transcript, requested its new lawsuit be transferred to the judge in that case, but the judge said he has a conflict that prevents him from presiding over this dispute. The filing doesn’t disclose the conflict.