Controversy After $10bn JEDI Contract Goes To Single Supplier

MICROSOFT NEWSControversy After $10bn JEDI Contract Goes To Single Supplier

Controversy surrounds the recent award of a US Department of Defense (DoD) cloud-computing contract. The single winner, Microsoft, was declared after President Trump had intervened in the procurement process. 

The $10bn contract to deliver the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) involves Microsoft providing the US armed forces with AI technology as well as collecting and storing sensitive military data.

The DoD were keen to stress that the procurement process had been carried out fairly and according to legal and regulatory guidelines. All bids had been given a fair and consistent evaluation against set criteria according to a DoD spokesperson.

Tenders for the contract were invited following the DoD's announcement on July 2018 of a requirement for a cloud services solution provided by a single source. Many technology companies had voiced concerns about a single supplier solution, believing it to have many flaws.

The JEDI procurement process had run into criticism earlier this year when Amazon Web Services (AWS), the favourite to clinch the deal, faced concerns that it was too closely linked to the government.

During the summer of 2019, Oracle took the DoD to court following a decision to exclude Oracle from the running for failing to meet the set criteria. IBM had been excluded at the same time for the same reason.

Oracle, according to Bloomberg, had alleged that the single supplier solution was in violation of federal procurement laws in place to safeguard fair competition. Security was the driving factor behind the contract going to a single supplier, the DoD countered.

Oracle also made claims that conflicts of interest had marred the procurement process. An example they cited was of two DoD officials receiving job offers from Amazon whilst still working on the JEDI project.

Oracle's claims were dismissed by Judge Eric Bruggink of the Federal Claims Court. Judge Bruggink stated that because Oracle had not met the competition criteria, they could not cite prejudice from other aspects of the procurement process. Oracle have indicated that they will appeal the decision. 

President Trump got involved in the procurement process in July after there had been a "tremendous" amount of complaints about unfairness received from Amazon's bidding rivals. His intervention preceded an announcement to postpone the procurement process whilst Mark Esper, the defense secretary, conducted a review of the complaints.

A representative of Amazon stated that the decision to award Microsoft the JEDI contract had taken Amazon by surprise, given AWS's lead position in cloud computing. They also stated that Amazon would continue to find new innovations for the digital battlefield; supporting successful operations with secure, efficient, resilient and scalable resources.

President of Microsoft's US Regulated Industries, Toni Townes-Whitley said that they were proud to have become the DoD's cloud strategy supplier and that Microsoft had put its best efforts into the rigorous process.

The DoD's objective, articulated throughout the procurement process for JEDI, was to satisfy urgent and critical warfighting needs through deployment of the most secure, innovative and commercially available technology.

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