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Judge rules Amazon's JEDI lawsuit to go forward

Amazon’s argument that political involvement from the Trump administration swung the Defense Department’s award of the JEDI cloud infrastructure contract to Microsoft in October 2019 can go ahead in the judicial forum.

In a sealed ruling, Court of Federal Claims Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith denied a joint motion of Microsoft and DOD to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Amazon Web Services to contest that award.

The ruling was described in a notification from the court Wednesday that said all parties must begin working on a plan for future proceedings.

That decision also means AWS can press forward on seeking depositions from former president Donald Trump, former Defense Secretary James Mattis and other officials as part of the company’s case.

DOD reaffirmed the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract award to Microsoft in September 2020 after both companies revised their bids, after which AWS then filed its amended complaint about the Pentagon’s initial source selection process and the partial redo.

AWS’ longstanding crux is that Trump’s animus toward Amazon founder Jeff Bezos worked its way down into the decision to award Microsoft the contract. AWS also wants depositions from former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, former DOD Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy and three members of the JEDI source selection panel.

"The record of improper influence by former President Trump is disturbing, and we are pleased the Court will review the remarkable impact it had on the JEDI contract award," an AWS spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "AWS continues to be the superior technical choice, the less expensive choice, and would provide the best value to the DOD and the American taxpayer."

“This procedural ruling changes little. Not once, but twice, professional procurement staff at the DoD chose Microsoft after a thorough review. Many other large and sophisticated customers make the same choice every week,” Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of communications, said in a separate statement. “We’ve continued for more than a year to do the internal work necessary to move forward on JEDI quickly, and we continue to work with DoD, as we have for more than 40 years, on mission critical initiatives like supporting its rapid shift to remote work and the Army’s IVAS.”

IVAS is the $22 billion augmented reality headset contract Microsoft is moving from pilot to production on.

About the Author

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

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