White House: Trump won't intervene in DOD cloud deal

Royalty-free stock photo ID: 594090350  By S.Borisov 

Despite his repeated public venting of anger at Amazon, President Donald Trump won't play a part in a Pentagon plan to award a cloud contract, said White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

In recent days Trump has been on the warpath against Amazon and founder Jeff Bezos with a series of tweets alleging, among other things, that the company has a sweetheart deal with the U.S. Postal Service for parcel shipping, that Amazon is evading state and local sales taxes, and that the Bezos-owned Washington Post should register as a lobbyist.

The anti-Amazon wrath has heartened some opponents of the Pentagon's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing acquisition, which many in industry are afraid is tilted toward Amazon's strengths. The contract could cover a decade and cost many billions of dollars.

But according to Sanders, Trump isn't planning to intervene.

"The president is not involved in the process," Sanders said in the April 4 press briefing, in response to a question from Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs. "DOD runs a competitive bidding process."

Speculation about Trump's potential involvement with the cloud procurement was sparked in part because of news that Oracle chief executive Safra Catz raised the matter of the procurement at a private dinner with Trump that also included tech entrepreneur and sometime-presidential advisor Peter Thiel.

JEDI is still in the pre-solicitation phase. Potential vendors submitted comments and are awaiting a revised draft solicitation sometime in April. A final request for proposals is expected to hit the streets in May with an award coming in September.

In an April 2 note to investors on the defense IT landscape, financial services firm Cowen said that Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure were frontrunners for the cloud deal, and that one or both of the companies might be in the market to acquire a company "with DoD access and IT enterprise capability" to support the deal.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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