Judge signs off on new schedule in JEDI court fight
Ends brief stalemate between attorneys
- By Ross Wilkers
- Jun 01, 2021
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated Tuesday afternoon after the judge overseeing the case approved Amazon's proposed schedule)
How much longer will the courtroom phase of the long-running saga surrounding the U.S. military’s JEDI commercial cloud infrastructure contract go for?
Well into the late summer and early fall at least. Likely longer given what has happened since the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract was first unveiled four years ago.
In a ruling Tuesday, the Court of Federal Claims judge overseeing the case approved a new schedule for proceedings in the matter that was proposed by Amazon in its protest of the contract's award to Microsoft in late 2019.
That latest decision follows attorneys representing Amazon, Microsoft and the U.S. government having told the judge in a joint status report filed Friday they had not come to a mutual agreement on a schedule for proceedings in the case at Court of Federal Claims.
Both sides of the dispute therefore gave their own ideas for the judge to consider -- Amazon Web Services in one corner with Microsoft and the Defense Department in the other.
DOD warned in January that a change in strategy regarding JEDI could happen the longer this case drags out. But this disagreement over how to move forward gives an indication that the department is sticking with the status quo of what it sees as this contract’s importance (at least for now).
At the end of April, Federal Claims Court Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith ruled against DOD’s push to dismiss AWS’ lawsuit contesting the award of JEDI to Microsoft.
The judge also declined to toss out AWS’ allegations of political interference into the source selection process by Trump administration officials including the former president himself. AWS wants to take depositions from those officials and Donald Trump.
AWS will now file its motion for completing the administrative record on June 18, followed by responses from Microsoft and DOD on July 9 and a response from AWS a week later. The administrative record would detail the entire process of the JEDI award decision including timeline and events.
DOD and Microsoft wanted the judge to deny AWS’ request to gather those depositions and other additional evidence regarding the political interference claims. But even if the judge ruled that way, the proposed schedule from DOD and Microsoft would have stretched the matter until at least Oct. 15.
By comparison, DOD and Microsoft wanted those steps regarding the administrative record completed by July 9 and the judge to rule on them “as soon as practicable” given the department’s argument of JEDI’s envisioned capabilities being foundational to national security.
If the judge grants AWS’ discovery motions for additional evidence, then additional motions would follow for another 70 days and there is no clear timetable on how long the process would take including if depositions are granted.
Scheduling was not the only matter of disagreement between the parties. In addition to the depositions, AWS also wants to see instant messages and emails among DOD employees the company believes shows anti-Amazon bias during the procurement process.
DOD has held back from turning those communications over and believes the judge already has enough information as is to make a ruling.
Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also connect with him on LinkedIn.