AWS renews JEDI protest
- By Adam Mazmanian
- Dec 16, 2020
Amazon Web Services resumed its legal battle over the 10-year, $10 billion enterprise cloud contract known as JEDI months after the Pentagon re-awarded the contract to Microsoft.
According to an updated lawsuit filed in the Court of Federal Claims, AWS emerged as the low bidder by tens of millions of dollars in revised proposals submitted to the Department of Defense under a corrective action that took place while the case was on remand.
"AWS's emergence as the lowest priced offeror complicated DOD's efforts to steer the contract to Microsoft," the lawsuit states. The re-award to Microsoft was made, according to AWS, despite Microsoft's poor performance on tests related to capacity and security and reflects the long-standing animus of President Donald Trump toward Jeff Bezos, founder of AWS parent company Amazon.
The revised complaint is dated Oct. 23 and was released with redactions on Dec. 15. DOD publicly announced the re-award to Microsoft on Sept. 4. The contract was originally awarded to Microsoft in October, 2019. The request for proposals was released in the summer of 2018 and the structure of the single-award enterprise cloud contract was developed the year before that.
"[T]hese errors did not occur in a vacuum," the lawsuit states. "Instead they can be best explained as the latest manifestation of President Trump's determination to steer the [Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure] contract away from AWS."
AWS is seeking relief on four counts: a failure to evaluate proposals by the terms of the solicitation; disparate treatment that favored Microsoft's bid over that of AWS; an "irrational" best value decision; and claims of "bias, bad faith, improper influence, and/or conflict of interest."
On this last score, AWS claims there is a record of JEDI procurement officials meeting with senior White House officials to discuss the program, and that a planned investigation of these contacts by the DOD Office of Inspector General was obstructed. A subsequent OIG report was inconclusive on the nature of these interactions.
AWS is asking the court to continue an order to halt work on the contract, declare the re-award decision to be outside the bounds of the law, order DOD to reevaluate existing proposal or solicit revised bids. Additionally, AWS wants DOD to replace the source selection team on the JEDI contract and grant AWS costs incurred in modifying its proposals for DOD.
"We had made clear that unless the DoD addressed all of the defects in its initial decision, we would continue to pursue a fair and objective review, and that’s exactly where we find ourselves today," an AWS spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
Microsoft stressed the merits of DOD’s decisions in their response. “As the losing bidder, Amazon was informed of our pricing and they realized they’d originally bid too high," Frank X. Shaw, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for communications, said in an emailed statement. "They then amended aspects of their bid to achieve a lower price. However, when looking at all the criteria together, the career procurement officials at the DoD decided that given the superior technical advantages and overall value, we continued to offer the best solution. We also know what it takes to serve the DoD having worked with them for more than 40 years."
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.