A $10 billion technology contract that once seemed to be in the bag for Amazon has been awarded to Microsoft instead.
The action came three months after President Donald Trump said he was “getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon,” according to The New York Times.
“They’re saying it wasn’t competitively bid,” he said.
Trump called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure “a very big contract, one of the biggest ever,” and said he heard “complaining from different companies like Microsoft and Oracle and IBM.”
“Great companies are complaining about it,” he said, “so we’re going to take a look at it. We’ll take a very strong look at it.”
Over the summer, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida joined Trump in his criticism of the process, saying in a letter that the “cloud computing procurement suffers from a lack of competition. This, it is feared, will result in wasted taxpayer dollars and fail to provide our warfighters with the best technology solutions.”
“Our warfighters deserve the best capability possible and the taxpayers deserve the best value possible. Unfortunately, moving forward with the current JEDI procurement will not further that goal. I respectfully request that you direct the delay of an award until all efforts are concluded in addition to evaluating all bids in a fair and open process in order to provide the competition necessary to obtain the best cost and best technology for its cloud computing needs,” Rubio wrote at the time.
The Pentagon announced the decision on Friday, and said all rules were followed in awarding the highly sought-after 10-year contract.
“The acquisition process was conducted in accordance with applicable laws and regulations,” the Defense Department said in a statement on Friday, according to The New York Times. “All offerors were treated fairly and evaluated consistently with the solicitation’s stated evaluation criteria.”
Amazon said it was surprised its cloud computing services, known as Amazon Web Services, was not selected.
“AWS is the clear leader in cloud computing, and a detailed assessment purely on the comparative offerings clearly led to a different conclusion,” Drew Herdener, a spokesman for Amazon, said. “We remain deeply committed to continuing to innovate for the new digital battlefield where security, efficiency, resiliency and scalability of resources can be the difference between success and failure.”
Amazon is owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. Trump has repeatedly criticized Bezos and Amazon throughout his time as president.
Price Floyd, a former head of public affairs at the Pentagon who consulted briefly for Amazon, said Trump’s past comments about Amazon could be used against the administration if Amazon wants to protest the award to get a piece of the contract.
“He’s the commander in chief, and he hasn’t been subtle about his hostility toward Amazon,” Floyd said.
On Friday, one legislator seemed relieved the contract was finally moving forward.
“Advanced general-purpose cloud is the industry norm, and it’s past time the Department of Defense had access to these capabilities,” said Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin of Rhode Island, the chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities. “I look forward to continuing to use my position in Congress to increase access to next-generation technologies that support our war fighters.”
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