Amazon Files New Protest in Ongoing JEDI Cloud Saga

Amazon Web Services filed another protest May 4 to again push back on the Pentagon’s premiere cloud infrastructure competition.

Amazon is appealing directly to the Pentagon over a perceived lack of clarity as the Defense Department amends its requirements for the commercial Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud. The company already pumped the brakes on the JEDI program by protesting DOD’s October 2019 contract award to Microsoft, leading a federal judge to order the Pentagon to make changes. The new protest is private.

Now, AWS says the proposed changes do not meaningfully address the problems it raised in its protest. 

“The judge stopped the DOD from moving forward because the very first issue she reviewed demonstrated serious flaws [how storage was defined and what was required to have a valid bid],” Drew Herdner, a vice president of communications at Amazon, wrote in a May 8 blog post. “We asked multiple times for clarification, to which the DOD was unresponsive. … This could have been easily avoided if they had chosen to be responsive in any of the multiple requests we’ve made in the last two weeks.”

Amazon is concerned about all six of the Pentagon’s technical evaluation metrics, and indicated that more protests could be coming if DOD does not resolve those issues as well. Both AWS and Microsoft can revise their proposals to meet the new requirements.

“AWS is committed to ensuring it receives a fair and objective review on an award decision that the court found to be flawed,” 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.”

Microsoft argues Amazon lost out on the contract worth up to $10 billion over 10 years because it had an inferior proposal. AWS contends that the Trump administration is biased against its product and DOD is handling the evaluation poorly.

“Amazon may make a lot of noise about bias and interference, but the DOD’s independent inspector general made it clear that the department established and followed a proper procurement process,” Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for communications, wrote in a May 7 blog.

Federal News Radio reported that another protest, filed by Oracle earlier in the competition, is still open. Lawyers for the Pentagon, Oracle, and Amazon will head to federal appellate court June 5 to argue about whether JEDI should be a single-award contract.

A Pentagon spokesman told reporters DOD is working as quickly as possible to get cloud storage capability out to troops.