Pentagon cancels contested JEDI contract, considers Amazon and Microsoft

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Pentagon cancels contested JEDI contract, considers Amazon and Microsoft


The US Pentagon announced on Tuesday that it had canceled a cloud computing contract with Microsoft that could ultimately have been worth $ 10 billion. Instead, it will pursue a deal with Microsoft and Amazon and possibly other cloud service providers.
“With the evolution of the technological environment, it has become clear that the long-delayed JEDI Cloud contract no longer meets the requirements to fulfill the DoD [US Department of Defense’s] capability gaps, ”the Pentagon said in a statement.

The statement did not directly mention that the Pentagon was facing prolonged legal challenges from Amazon over the initial million dollar contract awarded to Microsoft. Amazon argued that the Microsoft price was tainted by politics, particularly then-President Donald Trump’s antagonism towards Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Bezos owns the Washington Post, a media outlet often criticized by Trump.

Pentagon Chief Information Officer John Sherman told reporters on Tuesday that during the long legal battle with Amazon, “the landscape has changed” with new possibilities for large-scale cloud services. So it was decided, he said, to start over and look for several suppliers.

Sherman said JEDI would be replaced by a new program called Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability, and that Amazon and Microsoft would “likely” be assigned a portion of the business, although neither is guaranteed. Sherman said the other three big cloud service providers – Google, IBM and Oracle – could also be eligible.

Microsoft said in response to the Pentagon announcement, “We understand the raison d’être of DoD and we support them and all the military who need the critical 21st century technology that JEDI has provided. The DoD was faced with a difficult choice: whether to pursue what could be a multi-year court battle, or find another way forward. “

Amazon Web Services, a market leader in cloud computing services, has long been viewed as a prime candidate to execute the Pentagon’s common enterprise defense infrastructure project known as JEDI.

The project was supposed to store and process large amounts of classified data, allowing the U.S. military to improve communications with soldiers on the battlefield and use artificial intelligence to accelerate its war planning capabilities and of fight.

The JEDI contract got bogged down in legal challenges almost as soon as it was awarded to Microsoft in October 2019. The losing bidder, Amazon Web Services, went to court arguing that the Pentagon process was flawed and unfair, especially that he was unduly influenced by politics. .

This year, the Pentagon had hinted that it could cancel the contract, saying in May it felt compelled to reconsider its options after a federal judge in April rejected a Pentagon decision to have key elements rejected. of the Amazon lawsuit.

The JEDI saga has been unusual for the political dimension linked to Trump. In April 2020, the Office of the Inspector General of the Ministry of Defense concluded that the procurement process complied with legal and government procurement standards.

The Inspector General found no evidence of White House interference in the contract award process, but this review also indicated that investigators could not fully investigate the case because the White House would not allow not unimpeded access to witnesses.

Five months later, the Pentagon reaffirmed that Microsoft was the winner of the contract, but work was stalled by Amazon’s legal challenge.

In its April 2020 report, the Inspector General’s office did not draw a conclusion as to whether Microsoft Corp., based in Redmond, Wash., Was appropriately declared the winner.

Rather, he examined whether the decision-making process was appropriate and legal. He also examined allegations of unethical behavior by Pentagon officials involved in the case and generally determined that the ethical lapses did not influence the outcome.

This review did not find any evidence of pressure from the White House to have the Pentagon favor Microsoft’s offer, but it also said it could not determine with certainty the extent of the White House’s interactions with Pentagon decision-makers.



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