Friday, 21 February, 2020


Judge halts Microsoft work on Cloud contract after Amazon suit

Conrad Doyle | 14 February, 2020, 11:55

A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the USA military from awarding a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract to Microsoft, after Amazon claimed the process was tainted by politics.

A judge ordered a block on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) initiative, a huge effort to modernise the USA military's computer systems, which the Department of Defense had awarded to Microsoft in October.

Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith issued the injunction but did not release her written opinion.

Amazon has alleged it was shut out of the deal because of President Donald Trump's vendetta against the company and its chief executive Jeff Bezos.

Amazon has asked for the Department of Defense to halt the contract with Microsoft and re-review submitted proposals.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver said in a statement that the department was disappointed in the ruling that delayed changes "and deprived our warfighters of a set of capabilities they urgently need".

The injunction puts a freeze on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, project, which aims to allow the USA military to use artificial intelligence to beef up its fighting capabilities as well as improve communications with soldiers on the battlefield.

The JEDI contract has been hotly contested not only because it is worth an estimated $10bn, but also because the green light from the USA military would be a significant vote of confidence that any victor could use to win further deals.

"We have confidence in the Department of Defense, and we believe the facts will show they ran a detailed, thorough and fair process in determining the needs of the warfighter were best met by Microsoft", said Frank Shaw, the company's vice president of communications. After the victor was narrowed down to Amazon and Microsoft previous year, President Trump said he was looking into the bidding process in response to complaints by IBM and other companies.

In arguments making a case for Trump's deposition, Amazon sought to fit Trump's actions on the JEDI contract into a broader pattern of interference.

The bid protest filed in US Court of Federal Claims urges that the rival JEDI bids be re-evaluated and a new decision reached.

Both the documents requesting the block and the judge's decision to issue the injunction were sealed by the court.

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