The Pentagon awarded the JEDI contract to Microsoft to collect and store sensitive military data © US ARMY/AFP/Getty Images
The Pentagon awarded the JEDI contract to Microsoft to collect and store sensitive military data © US ARMY/AFP/Getty Images

DoD calls for JEDI legal challenge to be thrown out

8 January 2020

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has asked the Court of Appeals to dismiss Oracle’s legal challenge that alleged the procurement of the JEDI contract was skewed to favour Amazon Web Services (AWS). 

Court documents filed by lawyers on behalf of the DoD argued the decision to award the JEDI [Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure] contract to Microsoft should settle claims about a conflict of interest between the government and AWS employees. 

Microsoft was awarded the $10bn contract to collect and store sensitive military information for the Pentagon in October 2019, despite AWS being widely considered front runner. Oracle and IBM were excluded from the competition in April 2019 for failing to meet the contract’s criteria. 

In a pre-award lawsuit filed in December 2018, Oracle claimed there was a conflict of interest as two DoD officials had been offered jobs at Amazon while working on the JEDI project.

The firm also criticised the decision to award the JEDI contract to a single bidder, alleging the decision to pick one winner violated federal procurement laws designed to ensure competition. The Court of Federal Claims (COFC) ruled against the company in July 2019.

Oracle launched an appeal against this decision in November 2019, stating “JEDI suffers from corruption of a high order”.

Responding to Oracle's claims, the DoD court papers said: “Microsoft winning the JEDI contract has mooted Oracle’s allegations that AWS obtained an unfair competitive advantage in the competition by hiring former government employees.” 

DoD added the contracting officer (CO) “determined that multiple JEDI contracts would not be in the government’s best interests”, and Oracle would still not have been eligible for the contract as it still would not have met the criteria. 

“DoD would not be obligated to re-solicit the JEDI contract if Oracle’s protest were successful ... Rather, DoD would likely re-open the procurement … and re-award the contract to Microsoft,” government lawyers said. 

AWS has filed documents relating to Oracle’s appeal, saying it “lacked standing” as the CO and the COFC each found AWS had no organisational conflict of interest. 

Separately, AWS has submitted its own legal challenge against the decision to award the contract to Microsoft. 

Last month, AWS claimed US president Donald Trump exerted pressure to “screw Amazon” out of the contract. Trump has frequently criticised Amazon and its boss, Jeff Bezos. Last year, Trump threatened to intervene in the procurement process following “tremendous complaints” made by AWS’s rivals.

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