AWS complains that DOD's JEDI corrective action is too narrow

Amazon Web Services got part of what it wanted when the Defense Department told a federal judge it planned to reconsider aspects of last year’s award of the JEDI cloud infrastructure contract to Microsoft.

But in a new court filing submitted Tuesday, attorneys representing AWS claim that DOD’s corrective action will not go far enough to address the company’s arguments and that the department merely is giving Microsoft a “do-over” on its bid.

In February, Court of Federal Claims Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith ordered DOD to stop work on the contract after finding AWS “likely to succeed” in its protest and particularly regarding how the department made technical evaluations of both companies’ cloud storage solutions.

DOD’s motion earlier this month to propose corrective action asked the judge to let the department accept limited proposal revisions from AWS and Microsoft that address their technical approaches to pricing scenarios, plus reconsider evaluations of both companies’ online marketplace offerings and possibly clarifications if need be. The judge has not ruled yet on whether she will let DOD proceed that way.

Attorneys representing AWS told the court that DOD should go beyond those narrow windows in any corrective action and that instead proposals should be re-evaluated “with respect to all of the errors identified by the protest,” including the allegation that political interference by the Trump administration swung the award to Microsoft.

“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,” AWS’ legal team told the court.

An AWS spokesman said in a statement sent to reporters Tuesday that while the company welcomes the move toward corrective action, it remains “concerned that the proposed approach is not designed to provide a complete, fair, and effective re-evaluation.”

Microsoft remains on board with the route DOD is taking regarding a corrective action. When asked about the latest AWS filing, company officials referred back to a statement for reporters earlier this month.

"We believe the Department of Defense made the correct decision when they awarded the contract," Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw said then. "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 only aspect of certainty in the fight over JEDI is that the contract will still go to a single winner despite some market speculation that DOD’s motion for a corrective action singled some willingness to divide the contract between AWS and Microsoft.

DOD spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver told Breaking Defense in an article published Monday that the department “will not split the award, as the requirement remains for a single award and the solicitation calls for a single award.”

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also connect with him on LinkedIn.

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