On Thursday, February 13, 2020, a US judge intervened with the execution of the cloud computing projects signed between the Pentagon and Microsoft Corp. (Microsoft) on the consideration of a request made by Amazon.com Inc. (Amazon).
The cloud project of the US Department of Defense (DoD) was allotted to Microsoft while Amazon was seen as a front-runner to win the contract. Amazon lodged a lawsuit in a federal court alleging the US President, Donald Trump played a hand to meddle in the decision of the Pentagon and stop Amazon from receiving the defense contract.
Amazon Criticizes Trump’s Role on the Contract
The defense contract, which is popularly known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, or JEDI was a military project to provide better access for the Pentagon to cloud data and technology. Amazon, which had the confidence of winning the contract, sued a lawsuit in November 2019 just weeks after Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud computing deal was awarded to Microsoft.
Citing Trump’s “undue influence” in the decision making of the Pentagon, Amazon urged the US court in January 2020 to intervene in the project which was scheduled to start working from Friday, February 14, 2020.
Amazon’s boss, Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, has been targeted by Trump administration as his newspaper was critical of Trump’s policies. As Amazon officials claimed, Trump has publicly mocked Bezos and repeatedly criticized the company.
Defense Secretary, Mark Esper earlier had denied Amazon’s claims and reassured that the Pentagon made its fair decision without external influence. The Amazon lawsuit criticized that the DoD’s decision contained “egregious errors,” which was signed under “improper pressure from President Donald Trump, who launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks” against Amazon’s boss.
Court’s Ruling to Stop the Contract
Ruling in the favor of Amazon’s request, a US judge ordered to put Microsoft’s Pentagon cloud contract on hold on Thursday. Claiming the court’s ruling as disappointing, a Pentagon official told Reuters, it remained “confident in our award of the JEDI Cloud contract to Microsoft.”
Lieutenant Colonel, Robert Carver, a Defense Department spokesman, said that the Pentagon believed “the actions taken in this litigation have unnecessarily delayed implementing DoD’s modernization strategy and deprived our warfighters of a set of capabilities they urgently need.”
Following the news, Microsoft said in a statement, “We have confidence in the Department of Defense, and we believe the facts will show they ran a detailed, thorough and fair process.”
Reuters reported, the Judge, Patricia Campbell-Smith issued on Thursday “a preliminary injunction of the defense contract and ordered Amazon to post $42 million in the event the injunction was issued wrongfully.” The judge ordered Amazon and the Pentagon to have a meeting by February 27, 2020, to discuss the issue.
Citing the court’s judgment as a big deal, Alexander Major, a partner at McCarter & English, said, “The court has confirmed through the injunction that Amazon’s challenges with respect to this procurement are not trivial. It’s not guaranteed that they will prevail but the fact that they got it at all is a big deal.”
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