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From: Sr K11/14/2019 8:29:00 PM
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Glenn Petersen

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6:10 PM ET

Amazon to Protest Pentagon Contract Award to Microsoft

Amazon had been considered front-runner in contract bid

wsj.com

Updated Nov. 14, 2019 6:10 pm ET

WASHINGTON— Amazon.com Inc. said Thursday it would protest the Pentagon’s award of a massive cloud-computing contract to Microsoft Corp. in October, throwing yet another wrench in the long-running procurement battle.

Amazon had long been the favorite to win the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, contract, which is valued at up to $10 billion over the next decade. The Department of Defense investigated and cleared Amazon of conflict-of-interest allegations, but nonetheless ruled in the end that Microsoft was more qualified for the job.

The company’s cloud unit, Amazon Web Services, said in a statement that it was “uniquely experienced and qualified to provide the critical technology the U.S. military needs.”

“Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias, and it’s important that these matters be examined and rectified,” AWS said in the statement.

“We also believe it’s critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence,” AWS said.

The comment appeared to be directed at President Trump, who on July 19 called for an investigation of the Pentagon contract. “I’m getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and Amazon,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the time. “I will be asking them to look very closely to see what’s going on.”

Amazon’s comment Thursday suggested that Mr. Trump’s interest in the JEDI procurement could become an issue in its protest. Amazon declined to comment beyond its statement. The White House and Microsoft didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

“We will not speculate on potential litigation,” a Defense Department official said.

Amazon is filing its protest in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, where it earlier sided with the Pentagon against rival Oracle Corp. ’s protest over the JEDI procurement. Oracle, which was eliminated from the competition, lost its protest and is currently appealing the court’s ruling.

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The Pentagon Inspector General’s office began investigating the procurement even before a ruling was made on the bid protest, and the Defense Department formally referred some concerns to the IG.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced his own top-to-bottom review in early August, after President Trump voiced concerns about JEDI and Amazon, a company he has frequently criticized during his presidency.

Mr. Esper said in October that he was withdrawing from reviewing the contract to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. His son worked for one of the original bidders, IBM Corp. , that was no longer in the running for the deal.
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