Amazon 'likely to win' in JEDI contract challenge

9 March 2020

A US federal judge has said that she believes Amazon is likely to win its court case against the Department of Defense (DoD) over the award of the $10bn Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract.

Court of Federal Claims judge Patricia Campbell-Smith explained in a document made public on Friday why she ordered an injunction against any further work on the JEDI contract, which was awarded to Microsoft.

“The court concludes that the plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits of its argument,” said Campbell-Smith.

“The court considers it likely that [AWS’s] chances of receiving the award would have increased absent defendant’s evaluation error,” she added.

The document added that AWS would be likely to be able to demonstrate that this alleged error prejudiced its chances of winning the contract.

The “evaluation error” in question in the original procurement process refers to the type of storage that would be provided under part of the contract.

Amazon has argued that Microsoft should have been eliminated from the tender process because of this error.

It said that the DoD had failed to take into account the deficiency of its “noncompliant storage solution”. 

The document continued that “in the context of a procurement for cloud computing services, the court considers it quite likely” that the failure to meet the government’s requirement would be “material”.

Microsoft’s vice president of communications Frank X. Shaw was reported as saying: “The decision disagreed with a lone technical finding by the Department of Defense about data storage under the evaluation of one sub-element of one price scenario.

“We have confidence in our technology, our bid, and the professional staff at the Department of Defense. We believe that we will ultimately be able to move forward with the work. Time matters because those who serve our country urgently need access to this essential modern technology.”

AWS has alleged that the DoD’s evaluation was influenced by president Donald Trump’s animosity toward Amazon and its owner, Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post.

Separately, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has started to monitor the use of Huawei and ZTE equipment by telecommunications providers.

“Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs) must report the extent to which their networks contain or use potentially prohibited equipment or services provided by Huawei Technologies Company, ZTE Corporation, or their subsidiaries, parents, or affiliates,” said an FCC order.

The companies must also report the costs associated with removing such equipment and replacing it.

Huawei and ZTE have been provisionally designated as threats to US national security because of their links to the Chinese government.

The FCC has reassured small and rural carriers that a reimbursement programme would be established to minimise the impact of replacing equipment.

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