The JEDI saga continues: Court denies motion to dismiss AWS protest of political interference
The Court of Federal Claims issued a sealed decision Wednesday denying a motion by the Department of Justice and Microsoft to dismiss Amazon’s protest of the Pentagon’s $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract.
While the decision to dismiss wasn’t made available to the public, Amazon confirmed the court’s denial.
Amazon has two main claims in its larger JEDI protest of Microsoft’s award: That “DOD consistently and repeatedly made prejudicial errors, at every step along the way, that systematically favored Microsoft,” and that this happened because of overt influence from President Trump and other high-level government officials, who wanted to do harm to Amazon.
The government’s motion to dismiss focused on the latter complaint and apparently failed to convince the court to drop it.
“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,” said a spokesperson from Amazon Web Services. “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 JEDI protest has been pretty dormant for most of 2021, at least from the public’s perspective. But this motion shows the lawsuit, which began in late 2019, isn’t over yet.
Or maybe it is nearing its end? There’s a very real possibility the Department of Defense could now decide to give up on this program.
The department sent an “information paper” to Congress in January explaining the potential impacts of the Court of Federal Claims’ then-pending decision on the government’s motion to dismiss Amazon‘s allegations of “improper influence at the highest levels of Government.” In that paper, the DOD said that if the judge didn’t side with the DOD in the dismissal (and we’ve now learned it didn’t), it could “elongate the timeline significantly. The prospect of such a lengthy litigation process might bring the future of the JEDI Cloud procurement into question. Under this scenario, the DoD CIO would reassess the strategy going forward.” The DOD has been working to get the JEDI contract awarded and operational for the better part of four years now.
In January, acting DOD CIO John Sherman told FedScoop: “Regardless of the JEDI Cloud litigation outcome, the Department continues to have an urgent, unmet requirement for enterprise-wide, commercial cloud services for all three classification levels that also works at the tactical edge, on scale. We remain fully committed to meeting this requirement—we hope through JEDI—but this requirement transcends any one procurement, and we will be prepared to ensure it is met one way or another.
Asked about the court’s denial Wednesday, the DOD had “nothing to add to what the DoD CIO said about this topic earlier this year.”
Microsoft, though, downplayed the dismissal in a statement. “This procedural ruling changes little,” said Frank X. Shaw, head of Microsoft Communications. “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.”