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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Will conflict of interest investigation derail the JEDI cloud contract?

It appears that the Defense Department’s personal conflict of interest investigation involving the massive JEDI cloud computing contract is zeroing in on one person.

We reported earlier that DOD asked the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to pause the lawsuit filed by Oracle pending that investigation. Neither Oracle nor DOD’s co-defendant Amazon objected to the pause, or "stay" as they call it in legal terms.

Among other allegations, Oracle is claiming there are personal conflicts of interest involving Deap Ubhi, an Amazon employee, who went to work at DOD and then supported the JEDI procurement before returning to Amazon.

Ubhi was cleared to work on the $10 billion JEDI cloud infrastructure buy because it had been over a year since he had worked at Amazon. When it appeared that Amazon might buy a company he owned, he recused himself from further work on JEDI.

DOD's contracting officer for JEDI had ruled there was no impact on the development of the solicitation. She is still investigating whether the re-hiring of Ubhi by Amazon represented an organizational conflict of interest.

But now she is backing away from her ruling that there was no impact on the solicitation. She cites new information but the paragraph that apparently describes that information has been blacked out in the public version of motion to pause litigation.

This development could certainly be nothing. Or could be a big deal. Or somewhere in between, we just don't know yet.

If she determines that there was no impact, the court case will likely pick up where it left off -- preparations for hearings. Before this delay, oral arguments were scheduled for April 4. They will likely need to be rescheduled.

If she determines that there was an impact, well I’m just not sure. If DOD decides to rework the procurement, then the court challenge will probably be dismissed.

In addition to the conflict of interest charges, Oracle argues that many requirements in the solicitation were essentially designed in Amazon’s favor. Those sections would likely be re-written.

We could be looking at a long delay if that is the case.

I think we are looking at a long time before the award, even if everything goes in DOD's favor.

The contracting officer said she will not make a competitive range determination until after the new assessment on Ubhi’s potential conflict of interest.

She noted that no award is coming until at least three months after issuing the competitive range determination.

Let's say the contracting officer is done with her new assessment by the middle of March and then she finishes the competitive range determination by mid-April.

Under that scenario, we still have three more months before an award. So we are looking at an award in late July or early August.

And none of that takes into account whether the U.S. Court of Federal Claims takes any action.

At one time, DOD was talking about a JEDI award in 2018. We all assumed that wasn’t going to happen but now 2019 is looking increasingly cloudy.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 25, 2019 at 9:58 AM

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