JEDI cloud lawsuit paused as judge grants Pentagon request to revise solicitation

By Justin Doubleday / April 17, 2020 at 4:43 PM

Amazon's lawsuit against the Pentagon in the Court of Federal Claims is on hold after a judge today granted the Defense Department's request to "remand" the case so it can revise aspects of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud and address potential errors being challenged by Amazon.

In a sealed order released today, the judge granted DOD a remand of 120 days, until mid-August, to reconsider aspects of the JEDI procurement. The judge directed the clerk to stay the matter "until further order of the court."

The Pentagon awarded the potential 10-year, $10 billion cloud services contract to Microsoft in October. Shortly afterward, Amazon filed its challenge in the Court of Federal Claims.

In February, the judge ordered DOD and Microsoft to stop work under the contract after finding that Amazon would likely be able to show that DOD erred in its evaluation of the competing contractors' cloud storage solutions.

Last month, the Pentagon asked for the remand so it could "reconsider its evaluation" of that specific pricing scenario. DOD "intends to issue a solicitation amendment and to accept limited proposal revisions addressing the offerors' technical approach to that price scenario," according to the request.

DOD also wants to reconsider its evaluation of both AWS and Microsoft's online marketplace offerings, with the potential to "conduct clarifications with the offerors relating to the availability of marketplace offerings."

Amazon opposed the Pentagon's request, arguing DOD is giving Microsoft a "do-over" on its bid.

"The government should not be permitted to gerrymander the corrective action to preserve the illusion that Microsoft offered the lowest price while simultaneously perpetuating competitive impediments for AWS, the only offeror that submitted a compliant proposal eligible for award," Amazon's lawyers wrote in a late March filing.

Meanwhile, Microsoft said it supports DOD's move to reconsider limited aspects of the award decision.

"We believe the Department of Defense made the correct decision when they awarded the contract," Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw said last month. "However, we support their decision to reconsider a small number of factors as it is likely the fastest way to resolve all issues and quickly provide the needed modern technology to people across our armed forces. Throughout this process, we've focused on listening to the needs of the DOD, delivering the best product, and making sure nothing we did delayed the procurement process. We are not going to change this approach now."

The lawsuit's pause is the latest development in a nearly three-year-long saga. Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis launched the Pentagon's enterprise cloud program in September 2017.

Earlier this week, the Defense Department inspector general's office released a report on its investigation into the JEDI program. The IG determined the Pentagon followed the law in making JEDI a single-award contract, and it also cleared most DOD officials of alleged ethical violations.

But the IG could not "definitively" determine whether the White House influenced DOD's decision to award the contract to Microsoft, as White House lawyers directed DOD officials, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, not to answer questions about his communications with President Trump and White House officials.

Amazon's lawsuit alleges the president pressured DOD into making the wrong decision on the award because of Trump's animosity toward Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos.