Court orders temporary block on JEDI
- By Lauren C. Williams
- Feb 13, 2020
JEDI, the Defense Department's multi-billion-dollar cloud procurement, is officially paused, according to a federal court announcement Feb. 13.
A judge granted a temporary injunction on Microsoft's work to fulfill the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract Feb. 13 in response to Amazon Web Service's lawsuit. Microsoft was awarded the contract in October.
AWS, which was up against Microsoft in the final round of the competition, filed an injunction with the Court of Federal Claims to stop DOD's work with JEDI. Oracle, an early bidder and longtime protester of the contract, also has a lawsuit in the Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit, contesting its exclusion from competition.
The court documents for AWS' case were filed under seal, but the government has argued for continuing work on JEDI's implementation despite legal entanglements. Additionally, the Defense Department had previously indicated that unclassified capabilities for JEDI would begin rolling out in mid-February.
In filings by U.S. government attorneys arguing against the injunction, defense officials said that JEDI needed to move forward despite the ongoing lawsuit for reasons of national security, because delays would DOD $5 million to $7 million a month and because planned early task orders would help test a tool to execute cloud provisioning in the classified space more seamlessly and efficiently than is currently possible.
"We are disappointed in today's ruling and believe the actions taken in this litigation have unnecessarily delayed implementing DOD's modernization strategy and deprived our warfighters of a set of capabilities they urgently need," Lt. Col. Robert Carver, Department of Defense spokesman, said in a statement. "However, we are confident in our award of the JEDI Cloud contract to Microsoft and remain focused on getting this critical capability into the hands of our warfighters as quickly and efficiently as possible."
Steven Schooner, who teaches government procurement at the George Washington University School of Law said it was "unusual but by no means unprecedented" for the goverment side not to agree to to a stay or freeze of work on a contract that is the subject of legal dispute. However, he noted in an email, "we don't see a lot of these cases, where the court actually grants the restraining order or injunction over the government's objection." Schooner said that the court is "signalling that it is more likely than not that [AWS] has pled a case in which it appears to be entitled to a remedy and may, ultimately, prevail on the merits."
The contract has been embroiled in controversy extending to the White House. President Donald Trump made comments in July that he may "look into" the "tremendous" problems with the JEDI buy. Amazon complained about those comments in its lawsuit against the Defense Department, asserting the White House tampered with the award process.
The complaint also asserted that senior DOD officials, including the Defense Secretary Mark Esper and CIO Dana Deasy, were "uniquely susceptible" to pressure from Trump and that such political influence was likely present throughout the decision chain.
This story was updated with additional information and comment on Feb. 13.
Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.
Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.
Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.
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