IBM seeks stay on court's ruling over CIA contract


IBM is trying to ensure that Amazon Web Services' latest triumph in the battle to build the CIA's cloud computing infrastructure is short-lived.

Big Blue filed a motion to stop the immediate resumption of work by AWS that was made possible by U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Thomas Wheeler's Oct. 7 ruling overturning a decision by the Government Accountability Office to sustain a June bid protest by IBM over a $600 million contract the CIA awarded to AWS in early 2013.

The motion to stay the injunctive action that allowed AWS to get back to work on the CIA cloud does not preclude a follow-up appeal of Wheeler's ruling, which is expected.

Wheeler's decision in favor of AWS allowed the CIA and AWS to get back to work under their original contract's deals, nullifying possibly cheaper rebids by both companies that came as a result of the CIA following GAO's recommendations.

IBM's motion and accompanying attachments are under seal. But in a statement to FCW, IBM said the court's decision is flawed and illogical given the current economic climate.

"IBM is asking the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to halt implementation of its ruling against reopening competition for a [CIA] cloud computing contract so that IBM can have a meaningful opportunity to appeal," IBM spokesman Clint Roswell said.

"The decision by the Court of Federal Claims would allow severe flaws in the bidding process identified by the Government Accountability Office to stand, and imperil the CIA's ability to meet its cloud computing needs," Roswell added. "In a time of budget austerity dramatically illustrated by the current federal government shutdown, reinstating the original contract and the millions of dollars in additional costs it would impose simply doesn't make sense."

The CIA and AWS declined to comment.

IBM's move is not surprising considering the magnitude of the CIA's effort to develop an internal private cloud infrastructure for the entire intelligence community. It's a major deal in financial scope – up to $600 million over four years – and clout in cloud computing.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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