Microsoft has said it is ‘disappointed’ not to start work on the US Department of Defense’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (or JEDI) contract, after a legal challenge by Amazon was upheld, and an investigation into how the contract was awarded is set to begin.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) initially sued the Department of Defense (DoD) last year, claiming the awarding of the project - worth an estimated $10bn - was motivated by political enmity.
It claimed officials there bowed to pressure from US president Donald Trump, who had frequently criticised Amazon and its boss, Jeff Bezos.
AWS then sought a ‘preliminary injunction’ last month, to stop Microsoft beginning work on the contract, stating it was “important the numerous evaluation errors and blatant political interference that impacted the JEDI award decision be reviewed”.
Last week, judge Patricia Campbell-Smith, of the US Federal Claims Court, ordered the DoD to halt its JEDI activities.
Frank X Shaw, corporate vice president, Microsoft Communications said: “While we are disappointed with the additional delay, we believe we will ultimately be able to move forward with the work, to make sure those who serve our country can access the new technology they urgently require.”
He added: “We have confidence in the Department of Defense, and we believe the facts will show it ran a detailed, thorough and fair process in determining the needs of the warfighter were best met by Microsoft.”
Judge Campbell-Smith ordered Amazon to set aside $42m for costs which it would have to pay if it emerged in the future that the injunction had not been warranted.
The Defense Department has denied all claims of bias, and Amazon has declined to comment.
Last week, court papers filed by AWS revealed the firm has sought leave to question Trump as part of the lawsuit.
The JEDI contract is one of largest defence contracts in the US and aims to improve the military’s storage of secret data as well as helping it access information remotely.