Judge signs off on DOD's partial JEDI re-examination

The federal judge overseeing the JEDI lawsuit says the Defense Department can go ahead with plans to re-evaluate some parts of that big-ticket commercial cloud contract.

Albeit under seal, a federal judge has ruled the Defense Department can go ahead with its plan to re-evaluate certain aspects of the JEDI cloud contract over the next 120 days, or by Aug. 17.

That decision by Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith effectively puts on hold Amazon Web Services’ lawsuit against DOD over the award of the potential $10 billion contract to Microsoft in October 2019.  AWS subsequently took its protest to court and alleges political interference from the White House swung the award to Microsoft on President Trump’s animosity toward Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos.

DOD could get that approximately four-month window extended or shortened depending on how long it takes for its second look at proposals from Microsoft and AWS. Either way, this ruling extends a nearly three-year-long drama ever since DOD started its enterprise cloud program in September 2017 that paved the way for what became JEDI.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the order and declined to comment further. We also contacted AWS for comment and will update this story upon receipt.

Work on the JEDI project halted in February, when the judge granted an injunction sought by AWS on grounds that DOD made an error in the technical evaluation of bids and specifically in both companies’ cloud storage offerings.

The department subsequently proposed a remand for a corrective action to address that and accept limited proposal revisions including new price scenarios. AWS argued that did not take into account the issues the company is raising and said it would merely give Microsoft a “do-over.”

DOD also sought to re-evaluate the online marketplace offerings of both companies with the potential to clarify them. It is unknown how wide a scope DOD is taking with is remand given the ruling is sealed.

For its part, Microsoft hit back this week after DOD’s inspector general released a report on its nearly year-long investigation into the program and largely found the department followed the law in how it carried out the procurement.

Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Jon Palmer wrote in a blog post that AWS is the one seeking a “do-over” on JEDI and simply bid too high a price in its proposal.

In a statement last month, Microsoft said it supported DOD’s move to reconsider certain aspects of the award decision as it is “likely the fastest way to resolve all issues” and move ahead on the JEDI program.

The IG said it did not find there was influence from the White House on DOD to choose Microsoft for the contract, but noted that White House lawyers directed DOD leaders to not answer questions about communications with President Trump or other administration officials.

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