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Amazon Files Another Protest Over JEDI Contract

In response, Microsoft blasts Amazon Web Services for trying to force a do-over for the multibillion-dollar cloud contract.

Amazon Web Services filed an agency protest with the Defense Department Monday seeking what the company said was clarification over ambiguous pricing requirements in the amended JEDI solicitation.

The move comes as AWS’ case in federal court is on hold after a judge orderedthe Defense Department to take corrective action to fix parts of the contract the Pentagon agreed were flawed when it made the award to Microsoft in last October.

In a statement regarding the protest, which is confidential, an AWS spokesperson told Nextgov the company took action only after the Defense Department refused to answer questions over multiple correspondences.

“AWS is committed to ensuring it receives a fair and objective review on an award decision that the Court found to be flawed. AWS repeatedly sought clarity from the DoD around ambiguous aspects of the amended solicitation and the DoD refused to answer our questions,” an AWS spokesperson said. “We simply want to ensure a common understanding of the DoD’s requirements and eliminate ambiguity that could impact a fair evaluation.”

In a statement, Defense Department Spokesman Lt Col Robert Carver said, "DOD continues to execute the procedures outlined in the Motion for Voluntary Remand granted last month with the intent of delivering this critically-needed capability to our warfighters as quickly as possible.”

Related: Pentagon Will Allow Companies to Rebid for JEDI Contract

Microsoft, which has intervened in the federal court case, issued a blog post Thursday in response to AWS’ filing with the Defense Department. The post titled “Bid High, Lose, Try Again,” authored by corporate vice president of communications Frank Shaw, said the filing “is another example of Amazon trying to bog down JEDI in complaints, litigation and other delays designed to force a do-over to rescue its failed bid.” Shaw bluntly called for Amazon to get out of the way so JEDI services could be implemented for the department’s warfighters. 

AWS fired back at Microsoft after the blog post went live.

“It's not surprising that Microsoft is trying to posture here, but anybody who's studied the cloud computing space will tell you that AWS has a much more functional, capable, cost-effective, and operationally strong offering,” an AWS spokesperson told Nextgov. “It’s important to note that the Judge only ruled on one of the many errors in this evaluation and found the award decision was flawed (in fact, the Court found Microsoft’s bid was likely defective on the price factor alone and therefore ineligible for award, so who’s really getting the do over here?)  We're eager to see the full array of mistakes considered and assessed.”

AWS, once considered the frontrunner for JEDI because of its market-leading position and existing government contracts, has alleged in its lawsuit that the Pentagon made material errors evaluating the companies’ bids and that President Trump improperly influenced Pentagon officials’ decision-making.

The Defense Department Inspector General did not rule out White House influence on JEDI in a 300-page audit on the contract in April, nor did it equivocally state otherwise. Thus far, Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith has not addressed the allegations of White House influence in the bid protest case.

JEDI is considered one of the Pentagon’s most high-profile technology contracts in years and through it, officials hope to link together worldwide military systems at all classification levels from various military departments into a single, unified architecture. DOD officials have also repeatedly said that an enterprise cloud is essential to advance the department’s artificial intelligence projects. However, the contract has been protested four times and is closing in on two years behind schedule. An award before summer is unlikely. 

Editor's note: This story was updated to include comment from the Defense Department.