The $10 billion US Department of Defense (DoD) Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract ranks among the most legally messy in recent memory. Initially, Amazon was considered to be the clear front-runner in the competition but as a result of a contestation by Oracle which alleged conflict of interest resulting from one of the DoD’s employees having worked closely with Amazon in the past, its supposedly certain victory was delayed. After some months were wasted on resolving this legal challenge a date was set for the final selection of a winner: October 2019. To the surprise of many and Amazon’s dismay, Microsoft was selected.
However, as President Trump asked the Secretary of Defense to investigate favoritism towards Amazon in August 2019, Amazon filed a legal challenge alleging political interference in the award process. Despite the DoD attempting to dismiss the challenge, a judge from the Court of Federal Claims ruled on 28 April, 2021 that it will be heard.
Both companies released statements on the ruling. Microsoft’s communications corporate vice president stated that:
“This procedural ruling changes little. Not once, but twice, professional procurement staff at the DoD chose Microsoft after a thorough review. Many other large and sophisticated customers make the same choice every week. We’ve continued for more than a year to do the internal work necessary to move forward on JEDI quickly, and we continue to work with DoD, as we have for more than 40 years, on mission critical initiatives like supporting its rapid shift to remote work and the Army’s IVAS”
A representative for Amazon portrayed the most recent decision in a completely different light:
“The record of improper influence by former President Trump is disturbing, and we are pleased the Court will review the remarkable impact it had on the JEDI contract award. AWS continues to be the superior technical choice, the less expensive choice, and would provide the best value to the DoD and the American taxpayer. We continue to look forward to the Court’s review of the many material flaws in the DoD’s evaluation, and we remain absolutely committed to ensuring that the Department has access to the best technology at the best price.”
The Department of Defense continues to maintain that there is no evidence of political interference in its contract award process.