AWS’ latest protest over JEDI kicks off blog fight
Amazon Web Services’ agency-level protest filed this week over how the Defense Department is re-evaluating bids for the JEDI cloud infrastructure contract is confidential and will likely stay behind closed doors.
But that move by AWS over the award has ignited a new and very public round of punches between AWS and industry rival Microsoft, which won the award in October 2019 but well before DOD got a federal judge’s approval to amend the solicitation and accept partially revised bids.
The technical aspect at issue is how both companies priced their proposals for application and data storage, which AWS alleged DOD to have conducted a flawed evaluation on as one of several claims in the company’s lawsuit at Court of Federal Claims filed in November 2019.
AWS’ protest directly to DOD is technically separate process AWS’ court case that alleges political influence from senior White House officials on DOD swung the award to Microsoft due to President Trump’s animus against Amazon and its founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.
DOD last month secured an order from Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith that let the department proceed with a 120-day remand of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure procurement and allow for new pricing proposals in line with changed storage requirements. The department could also either seek more time for or complete the remand before that window ends on or around Aug. 17.
However, AWS’ latest protest but directly to DOD apparently is because the company believes it has not received adequate clarification over what the new requirements are. That caught the attention of Microsoft, which decided to reveal that protest in a blog post Thursday and call on AWS to “stand down in its litigation.”
“If their latest complaint mirrors the arguments Amazon made in court, it’s likely yet another attempt to force a re-do because they bid high and lost the first time,” wrote Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of communications.
“Again, we don’t know the content of Amazon’s complaint, as it avoids the public scrutiny of a court filing. But we do know that the changes DOD have made based on the judge’s ruling do not allow Amazon to undo its earlier business decision to bid high, which resulted in their loss,” Shaw wrote. “It does not allow Amazon to completely re-do its pricing, especially now that it knows Microsoft’s price and has a target to shoot at. And it does not allow Amazon to tilt the playing field in its favor.”
AWS through its parent company took its own return shot with a blog post Friday written by Drew Hardener, vice president of worldwide communications at Amazon. Hardener called the JEDI contract’s amended language “ambiguous” and claimed DOD “didn’t clearly define” the new requirement.
“We asked multiple times for clarification, to which the DOD was unresponsive. It left us no option but to appeal to the agency to clarify it. We hope this will be resolved soon,” Hardener wrote. “That’s totally up to the DOD to solve. 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. We simply sought clarity on the requirement — nothing more.”
Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also find and connect with him on LinkedIn.