/Pentagon Asks to Reconsider Awarding Huge Cloud Contract to Amazon

Pentagon Asks to Reconsider Awarding Huge Cloud Contract to Amazon


SAN FRANCISCO — The Defense Department mentioned on Thursday that it will re-evaluate the awarding of a $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft after sustained protest from Amazon, which had contended that it misplaced the deal due to potential interference from President Trump.

In a authorized temporary filed to the Court of Federal Claims, the Justice Department requested the reconsideration after Amazon argued in federal courtroom that its choices and pricing had been incorrectly assessed by the Pentagon. The Defense Department requested 120 days to reassess the award. The choose within the case, Patricia E. Campbell-Smith, is predicted to permit the re-evaluation to go ahead, although she has not but made an official ruling.

The reconsideration is the most recent twist within the monumental contract, often called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, which was thought-about to be a prize for expertise corporations.

Amazon, a cloud computing big, had broadly been thought-about the front-runner to win the contract earlier than it was awarded to Microsoft in October. Amazon then pushed to overturn the choice, arguing that President Trump interfered due to his dispute with Jeff Bezos, the founding father of Amazon and the proprietor of The Washington Post. The Washington Post has aggressively coated the Trump administration.

Doug Stone, an Amazon spokesman, mentioned in an announcement on Thursday that the corporate was “pleased that the D.O.D. has acknowledged ‘substantial and legitimate’ issues that affected the JEDI award decision, and that corrective action is necessary.” He added that Amazon appeared ahead to motion “that fully insulates the re-evaluation from political influence and corrects the many issues affecting the initial flawed award.”

A spokesman for the Defense Department didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

“We believe the Department of Defense made the correct decision when they awarded the contract,” mentioned Frank X. Shaw, a Microsoft spokesman, including that the corporate stays assured that its proposal “is the right choice for the D.O.D.”

The Pentagon’s speedy change of place raises the query of whether or not it instantly discovered advantage in Amazon’s objections, or whether or not officers feared that the courtroom motion difficult the award would inevitably floor emails or memorandums suggesting Mr. Trump interfered within the choice.

But a Defense Department official, who was not approved to communicate publicly, mentioned the submitting would pressure Amazon to show the allegations of bias it has leveled in opposition to Mr. Trump — a tough authorized problem.

Although Amazon has sought to depose Mr. Trump and senior Defense Department officers to struggle in opposition to the award to Microsoft, its authorized arguments difficult the way in which the contract was awarded have targeted on how the Defense Department didn’t precisely assess the way in which that it will be charged for sure providers.

In February, Judge Campbell-Smith sided with Amazon on the pricing issue, issuing a temporary injunction that prevented Microsoft from continuing to work with the Defense Department on the contract.

The back-and-forth has put the Pentagon in an awkward spot. Last month, speaking to reporters at the Munich Security Conference, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper argued that it was time to abandon challenges and move ahead with building the cloud. Time was of the essence, he said, and American national security was on the line.

“It’s important to the war-fighters that we move forward on this contract,” he said. “We have to move forward. It’s gone on too long.”

When asked whether he was pressured on who could receive the $10 billion contract, Mr. Esper said, “Look, I’m not going to get into that part, because I don’t talk about my discussions with the president and White House officials.”

He said he educated himself about the Pentagon’s transition to the cloud when he took office last year and said he “heard a lot” about the competition to build it, particularly on Capitol Hill, before ultimately recusing himself from the decision over the award because his son works at IBM, one of the companies that bid on the contract.

But when a reporter pointed out he had left open the possibility of pressure from Mr. Trump or other aides, he said: “I never felt pressure from the White House.”

Kate Conger reported from San Francisco and David E. Sanger from Washington.



Source link Nytimes.com

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