It alleges the Defense Department made numerous mistakes that downgraded Amazon’s bid and benefited Microsoft, which took place as the president publicly admonished Amazon over various issues. The company scored an early victory in the case March 6 when Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith of the Court of Federal Claims ruled the department had made a mistake in one aspect of how it evaluated prices. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
In early March, the Pentagon asked a federal court to give it 120 days to “reconsider certain aspects” of its decision to award JEDI. It did not walk back its decision to give the contract to Microsoft, however, saying it would reconsider two minor aspects of how it weighed the company’s prices and how it considered “marketplaces” that were included in the two companies’ bids.
“The department determined that the best and most efficient path forward is to conduct a reevaluation of the proposals in order to address the court’s noted concerns,” Pentagon spokeswoman Rachel VanJohnson said in a statement at the time.
All parties are waiting for Campbell-Smith to grant or reject the Pentagon’s motion.
Amazon objected to the Pentagon’s motion to remand the request back to the Defense Department. The company is seeking discovery on a host of other mistakes it claims the Defense Department made, and also wants to investigate a last-minute amendment to data center requirements that benefited Microsoft. The company wants to depose Trump, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper and other high-level officials regarding the president’s alleged improper involvement.
In a court document unsealed Tuesday, Amazon accused the Defense Department of seeking to justify its earlier decision to Amazon without a meaningful effort to reconsider its approach.
“The corrective action DoD proposes … suggests that DoD seeks to take whatever corrective action is necessary to reaffirm its prior award to Microsoft despite the material defects the court identified and DoD has now acknowledged,” Amazon wrote in a court filing unsealed Tuesday.
Amazon has cast its case as more than just a fight over government work. It has directly accused the Trump administration of improperly intervening to spike its bid, making the case that the integrity of the entire government procurement system is at risk.
In court filings, the company has described the president’s involvement in the JEDI procurement as part of a broader pattern of manipulating defense funds for personal or political gain. It likened JEDI to a separate episode in which a company controlled by a Trump ally received a $400 million border wall contract. The company has also compared the situation to the withholding of military aid destined for Ukraine that led to Trump’s impeachment.
Its bid protest has centered on a last-minute decision by Esper to conduct a review of the Pentagon’s approach to JEDI, an inquiry that came soon after intervention from the White House and members of Congress. Esper held numerous meetings with individuals involved in the procurement process before abruptly recusing himself.
Defense officials have insisted that Trump did not “order” Esper to arrive at any specific determination, and Esper later told the trade publication Defense One that he was not “pressured” by Trump.
Microsoft, for its part, has accused Amazon of over-politicizing the cloud contract and seeking to build a case with no evidence. A team of attorneys from Microsoft and the Justice Department contend that Amazon should have raised its allegations earlier.
Officials from Microsoft and the Pentagon had initially vowed to move forward with implementing JEDI despite Amazon’s lawsuit, but were stymied by a court order. Microsoft has continued to build out its cloud offerings, recently receiving a temporary certification from the Pentagon that allows it to handle classified data. On Thursday, the company also announced that it had added a third data-center region for classified customers.
In a court filing unsealed March 19, Microsoft said the Defense Department had inadvertently revealed proprietary bidding information to Amazon in the course of debriefing it. The Pentagon then asked Amazon to delete that information, according to court filings from both companies and a statement from the Defense Department.