Pentagon fends off Amazon cloud complaints

The Pentagon is defending the merits of its lucrative Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract race, amid complaints from companies, lawmakers and promised scrutiny from President Trump.

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed earlier this month the procurement process would be reviewed after Trump said he was receiving “tremendous complaints.”

The Department of Defense announced last week that the Pentagon would not decide on a winner until a review of the contract was completed, but the agency is seeking to dispel myths that have caused controversy regarding the cloud enterprise project.

The two remaining bidders are Amazon and Microsoft, which are the two companies the Department of Defense decided met its cloud requirement criteria. A winner was expected to be announced later this month.

A total of four companies – including Oracle and IBM – entered the bidding race, out of a total of five that were qualified, the DoD said, batting away complaints competition was unfairly restricted.

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A number of lawmakers, including Republicans Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, have voiced concerns about the procurement process and whether it has been anti-competitive.

On Friday, the Department of Defense said it has been a fair, full and open competition, and the source-selection process has been multi-layered.

Oracle – one of the initial contenders – has filed complaints regarding the JEDI contract, including over purported connections between Amazon employees and Department of Defense officials – and an alleged unfair bias toward the e-commerce giant. It also protested the agency’s decision to award the contract to a single company.

The Defense Department addressed Oracle’s claims, saying the U.S. Court of Federal Claims did not sustain any of Oracle’s complaints, and neither did a prior intra-agency investigation.

Amazon was viewed as an early frontrunner due to its other standing cloud deals, including a $600 million cloud contract with the CIA. That indicates the company already has the approval to handle sensitive government data.

In reaction to concerns, there were criteria that allegedly unfairly favored Amazon, DoD said its evaluation needs reflect what is required to support the warfighter and the company with the best capabilities will win.

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Last year, search giant Google pulled its bid for the JEDI contract, amid concerns the job does not align with the company’s artificial intelligence principles.

Google has dealt with employee protests and concerns over producing technology for the U.S. military which has been met with criticism.

On Friday, Billionaire Peter Thiel bashed the search giant again for working with the Chinese military, while shunning U.S. military work.