JEDI, which stands for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, is meant to create a massive cloud-based central operating system for the U.S. armed forces. The contract has been controversial from the start, in part because it was designed to go to just one cloud provider. Microsoft was awarded the contract in 2019, a decision that was reaffirmed last year.
Shortly after Microsoft’s win, Amazon brought a bid protest lawsuit alleging that the Defense Department’s procurement professionals made mistakes when weighing the two company’s bids. Amazon also argues that Trump had improperly interfered in the contract as a way of retaliating against Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. (Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)
In a statement, Microsoft communications chief Frank Shaw said the ruling “changes little.” He emphasized that Microsoft had won the contract twice and noted that the company is still preparing to implement JEDI, even though it is stalled in court. And he drew attention to a recent contract the Army awarded to Microsoft for virtual reality headsets, known as IVAS.
“Not once, but twice, professional procurement staff at the DoD chose Microsoft after a thorough review. Many other large and sophisticated customers make the same choice every week,” Shaw wrote. “We’ve continued for more than a year to do the internal work necessary to move forward on JEDI quickly, and we continue to work with DoD, as we have for more than 40 years, on mission critical initiatives like supporting its rapid shift to remote work and the Army’s IVAS.”
Drew Herdener, vice president of communications at Amazon, pointed to what he called a “disturbing” record of improper influence by Trump. He added that the company is pleased that the court will review the “remarkable impact” Trump had on the award. Trump repeatedly disparaged Bezos and Amazon throughout his presidency, and said on television that he was directing officials to investigate JEDI because he had received “tremendous complaints” from companies that compete with Amazon.
Amazon Web Services “continues to be the superior technical choice, the less expensive choice, and would provide the best value to the DoD and the American taxpayer,” Herdener wrote. “We continue to look forward to the Court’s review of the many material flaws in the DoD’s evaluation, and we remain absolutely committed to ensuring that the Department has access to the best technology at the best price.”
A Defense Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Top officials in the Defense Department’s office of the chief information officer have previously implied that they would jettison JEDI if forced to undergo the lengthy and expensive litigation process that depositions would entail. JEDI has already been bogged down in litigation for more than two years.
Former Pentagon chief information officer Dana Deasy, who oversaw JEDI during the latter half of Trump’s presidency, has said the JEDI procurement evaluators chose Microsoft on its merits and had no contact with the White House. A lengthy investigation by the Defense Department inspector general found that the JEDI procurement evaluators were not pressured by their superiors to pick Microsoft. The White House refused to cooperate or answer any questions on the matter, leading the inspector general to determine that it “could not definitively determine the full extent or nature of interactions that administration officials had, or may have had, with senior DoD officials regarding the JEDI Cloud procurement.”
The judge’s reasoning for dismissing Microsoft’s motion has not been made public. The opinion is to be released at a later date after Amazon, Microsoft and the Defense Department have had the opportunity to remove information they deem confidential.