The Return Of The JEDI

Ryan Shay '20, Staff Writer

Just when we thought Microsoft had won the deal, a federal judge this February ordered Microsoft to stop all work on the contract until certain legal issues were resolved. This comes at a time when Amazon has fought fervently to oppose the contract, since many thought the company would be granted the deal. However, on October 25 of last year, Microsoft was selected for the $10 billion dollar contract with the Department of Defence (D.O.D).

The contract is called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), and it proffered to major tech companies the opportunity to “provide [infrastructure services and platform services] to support D.O.D business and mission operations.” Essentially, the deal would reward billions of dollars to a company if they redid the entire cloud-based services for the D.O.D.

Preceding the announcement, controversy surfaced over the D.O.D’s bias towards Amazon, when it was found that a former employee had worked on the U.S military’s cloud computing system and was involved in their other contract decisions. (A federal judge, however, denied this protest, saying that “individual conflicts of interest did not impact the procurement”). This was in February of last year, and in August, President Trump halted the deal entirely to allow Mark Esper, the current secretary of defense, to investigate the matter (he has since recused himself due to conflicts of interest). It was only on October 25 of last year that Microsoft ultimately won the multi-billion dollar contract with the D.O.D. 

On November 22, 2019, though, Amazon filed an official complaint challenging the deal (made public in December). Much has been argued, but a main criticism of the deal has been that President Trump had interfered in the process of choosing to whom the D.O.D would award the contract. By escalating its complaints, Amazon is now in a position to legally pursue the possibility that the D.O.D will renege on the deal with Microsoft in favor of Amazon. But, in order to do so, Amazon, on February 13, was ordered by Judge Campbell-Smith to “pay a $42 million deposit that the court will hold in case it later determines that the injunction was wrongfully issued and that Microsoft is owed damages.”

As of late, it is still to be decided who will ultimately win the deal with the Department of Defense. As soon as the litigation is resolved in the case of Amazon, the decision will be made.

Image courtesy of defense.gov.