UPDATED 13:55 EST / MARCH 24 2020


AWS charges Pentagon wants to give Microsoft a ‘do-over’ on contested JEDI bid

In a court filing made public today, Amazon Web Services Inc. is charging that the Pentagon is unfairly favoring rival Microsoft Corp. as part of its reevaluation of the JEDI contract.

The JEDI, or Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, contract is a $10 billion cloud computing deal that the Pentagon awarded to Microsoft in October. The move was a surprise because AWS had been widely expected to be the winner. AWS responded by launching a legal challenge against the Pentagon’s choice, and it’s this ongoing case that provides the backdrop for the newly unsealed court filing.

The filing focuses on the one of the most recent and most significant developments in the case. In February, AWS won an injunction to temporarily pause Microsoft’s work on JEDI after convincing a judge that Microsoft’s bid likely contained a technical deficiency. The Department of Defense said it will address the issue by allowing Microsoft and AWS to make “limited proposal revisions” to change their bids, but AWS now says this arrangement unfairly favors its rival. 

Instead of addressing the breadth of problems in its proposed corrective action, the DoD’s proposal focuses only on providing Microsoft a ‘do-over’ on its fatally flawed bid while preventing AWS from adjusting its own pricing in response to the DoD’s new storage criteria,” an AWS spokesperson said.

The cloud giant’s complaint hinges on two main points. The first has to do with a section of the JEDI contract called Price Scenario 6, which had a central role in AWS winning the injunction back in February. The cloud giant argued at the time that Microsoft had failed to comply with a data storage requirement outlined in Price Scenario 6 and the Pentagon wants to allow the companies to revise this part of their bids. AWS’ new filing charges the revaluation process is flawed. 

“DoD’s corrective action, and particularly its limitation on price revisions in response to amendment Price Scenario 6, is irrational,” the document reads. “Offerors would be able to change only the services they proposed for Price Scenario 6, and would not be allowed to adjust the unit prices and discounts for those services.

“AWS understands that DoD also plans to prohibit offerors from revising their proposed discounts for the various services,” the document continues. “Those restrictions are unreasonable both within Price Scenario 6 and – because they have effects throughout – across all of the Price Scenarios.”

The other argument AWS has put forth is that the DOD’s plan to reevaluate Price Scenario 6 overlooks the problems it says exist in other parts of Microsoft’s bid.  

“DoD provides no meaningful commitment to evaluate the other serious errors identified by AWS’s protest,” the company wrote. “Even if taken at face value, DoD’s proposed corrective action fails to address in any meaningful way how it would resolve the technical issues AWS has raised, or which specific technical challenges it intends to address.”

AWS goes on to list no fewer than eight different areas where it believes the Pentagon performed “evaluation errors” in deciding the suitability of Microsoft’s cloud services. The listed areas include logical isolation and secure data transfer, tactical edge, information security and access controls, application and data hosting and portability, management and Task Order 001, and demonstration.

The cloud giant is asking the court to order that the Pentagon reevaluate JEDI in a way that addresses all errors instead of focusing solely on Price Scenario 6. “AWS requests the Court deny Defendant’s Motion, and require DoD to revise its corrective action to reasonably and fairly reconsider the JEDI award decision,” it concluded. 

Photo: gregwest98/Flickr

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