Recent court documents that were not sealed by Amazon shed light on Amazon’s lawsuit against the Pentagon over its $10 billion cloud contract with Microsoft. A federal judge granted Amazon’s request to halt the contract’s construction.
After receiving bids from major cloud vendors in the past, the Department of Defense (DoD), last fall awarded the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract to Microsoft. This surprised many industry watchers who expected Amazon Web Services to win the contract. Late 2019, Amazon filed suit against DoD to contest Microsoft’s win. This was followed by a request in January for an injunction.
In February, Judge Patricia Elaine Campbell Smith of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims granted Amazon an injunction request. This temporarily stopped the DoD from continuing with JEDI work and Microsoft. Her official opinion was sealed, however, until Friday.
The documents that were recently released show that Amazon’s main objection is that Microsoft’s technology solutions to DoD were “improperly evaluated” and that Microsoft should have been disqualified from the bidding process.
According to Amazon’s injunction request, the JEDI bidders were instructed to submit “online” and “replicated storage” solutions that were “highly available.” Although the unsealed documents do not specify which data storage solutions were submitted to the DoD bidders, Amazon claims that Microsoft’s proposal was a noncompliant storage solution.
According to Amazon, the DoD “should’ve found [Microsoft] technical approach infeasible”, assigned a deficiency and eliminated Microsoft from competition.”
Campbell-Smith sided in Amazon’s favor, stating that Amazon “is likely show that [the DoD] erred by not disqualifying Microsoft’s data storage solution.” Campbell-Smith also ruled that Microsoft’s error might have cost Amazon the JEDI contract.
“[The court] considers it probable that [Amazon’s] chances for receiving the award would have increased without [the DoD’s] evaluation error. Even if the deficiency that appears to have caused [Microsoft]’s exclusion from competition did not, a reduction of the…price advantage attributed by the [DoD’s Price Evaluation Board] [Microsoft’s] use…storage would likely affect the price evaluation, which would in turn affect the best value determination.”
According to Campbell-Smith, the DoD protested the injunction partly because delaying its work with JEDI could harm national security. The court “seriously” considers that concern. She said, however, that the fact that the DoD is not operating with the JEDI program now scuttles its argument that it cannot protect the nation if it does not move forward immediately. In the current circumstances, the court doesn’t believe that the JEDI program’s benefits are so critical that it is necessary for the court to review the process in order to protect the integrity of the procurement.
Campbell-Smith required Amazon put up $42million in bond for DoD to cover the possibility that the injunction was wrongly issued. Based on an estimate that the injunction would last at least six month and that each month could cost between $5 million and $7 million, the DoD proposed this amount.