Politics

Amazon asks court to pause Microsoft's work on Pentagon's JEDI cloud contract

Key Points
  • Amazon said Wednesday it filed a motion to pause Microsoft's work on the Pentagon's multibillion-dollar JEDI deal until a court rules on the protest of the contract award.
  • The Pentagon selected Microsoft over Amazon for the colossal contract on October 25.
  • In a Wednesday statement, AWS wrote, "It's important that the numerous evaluation errors and blatant political interference that impacted the JEDI award decision be reviewed."
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, pictured on September 13, 2018.
Bloomberg | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Amazon said Wednesday it filed a motion to pause Microsoft's work on the Pentagon's multibillion-dollar cloud deal until a court rules on the protest of the contract award.

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, cloud computing contract could be worth up to $10 billion for services rendered over as many as 10 years. The Pentagon selected Microsoft over Amazon for the colossal contract on October 25.

"It is common practice to stay contract performance while a protest is pending and it's important that the numerous evaluation errors and blatant political interference that impacted the JEDI award decision be reviewed," a spokesperson for AWS wrote in a Wednesday statement.

"AWS is absolutely committed to supporting the DoD's modernization efforts and to an expeditious legal process that resolves this matter as quickly as possible," the spokesperson added.

In November, Amazon filed a notice in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims indicating a plan to protest the Pentagon's decision to award Microsoft the multibillion-dollar cloud contract. Amazon claimed that the JEDI evaluation process contained "clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias." 

In December, Amazon's AWS chief Andy Jassy told CNBC that the cloud contracting was not adjudicated fairly.

"You know, there was significant political interference here," Jassy explained of the JEDI award.

"When you have a sitting president who's willing to be very vocal that they dislike a company and the CEO of that company, it makes it difficult for government agencies, including the DoD to make objective decisions without fear of reprisal. And I think that's dangerous and risky for our country," he told CNBC's Jon Fortt.

VIDEO8:4008:40
AWS' Andy Jassy: JEDI cloud contract was not adjudicated correctly

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has been a constant source of frustration for President Donald Trump. The billionaire executive owns The Washington Post, which Trump regularly criticizes for its coverage of his administration.

Trump also has gone after Amazon repeatedly for, as he claims, not paying its fair share of taxes and ripping off the U.S. Post Office.

The Pentagon announced in August that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper would review the deal after Trump said he had received complaints from companies about the process. Trump said in July that companies conveyed that the specifications of the contract favored Amazon, according to Bloomberg.

Read more: Trump says he's looking into a Pentagon cloud contract

"I never had something where more people are complaining," Trump said last month at the White House. "Some of the greatest companies in the world are complaining about it," he added, naming Microsoft, Oracle and IBM.

Trump often criticizes Amazon and Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. The president, without citing evidence, has accused the Post of making up stories about him.

The lucrative contract, originally scheduled to be awarded in September 2018, was postponed until Defense Secretary Mark Esper completed a series of thorough reviews of the technology.

"We've got to get this right, so we are not going to rush to a decision. We are going to spend whatever time the evaluation team needs to spend to make sure we are picking the best technical solution at the right price with the right criteria," Dana Deasy, the Pentagon's chief information officer, told reporters in a closed-door media roundtable at the Pentagon.

"We don't have an enterprise approach," Deasy added. "We have a bunch of siloed solutions we built. We have lots of vendors we're using for cloud solutions, but we've never stepped back and created a holistic solution, and that is causing challenges out in the field."

In December, Microsoft President Brad Smith told CNBC's Morgan Brennan that work on JEDI continues despite Amazon's protest.

"We have if anything been moving even faster since that contract was awarded," Smith said at the time.