The award of a lucrative contract to Microsoft (bypassing Amazon Web Services) did not happen after White House interference, according to the watchdog of the U.S. Department of Defense. This is evidenced by a recently published report by the internal watchdog of defense.
At the end of 2019, Microsoft was chosen as the party that was awarded the JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) contract, while competitor AWS appeared to be the biggest contender. Just before the end of the year, Amazon Web Services tried to temporarily halt Microsoft’s work for the DOD, claiming that Microsoft had been unfairly favoured and AWS was disadvantaged. According to AWS, Microsoft was chosen because President Donald Trump sees a political enemy in AWS-CEO Jeff Bezos.
However, the investigation of the Department of Defence’s watchdog shows that the Department has not received external pressure to choose Microsoft to modernise the Pentagon’s systems (a project involving an amount of around ten billion dollars). However, it should be noted that certain defence officials did not want to comment on the communication about the JEDI contract between themselves and the White House.
Amazon doubts the investigation
The evidence that was collected would show that the White House did not interfere in awarding the contract to Microsoft, but ‘we don’t know everything about the communication between government officials and the Ministry of Defence’, says the report. A conclusion that Amazon Web Services does not accept:
“It says nothing about the grounds on which the contract was awarded, which we know are highly questionable given the recent court ruling. The White House’s unwillingness to cooperate is yet another attempt to prevent transparency in the awarding of the JEDI contract. ‘
Just last month, AWS called for the tender for the JEDI contract to be re-submitted, allowing them and Microsoft to submit a proposal with a clean slate. This would come instead of the option previously used, i.e. being allowed to make changes to small parts of the submitted contract. In doing so, Microsoft would be favoured (according to AWS), because the elements that may be changed are to that party’s advantage.