- President Donald Trump reportedly demanded more information about the Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure (JEDI), a cloud contract from the Pentagon that could be worth as much as $US10 billion.
- Right now, the bidding for the JEDI award has narrowed down to the finalists Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, with AWS widely considered the favourite to win.
- Oracle, which was eliminated from the bidding process, recently lost a key legal battle in which it argued that the JEDI deal unfairly favoured Amazon.
- Some Republicans, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, had written letters to the White House and military leaders echoing Oracle’s concerns.
- Trump reportedly said he was interested in looking into the contract’s circumstances, but he did not say if he would block it from being awarded to either Microsoft or AWS.
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President Donald Trump has demanded more information about a $US10 billion cloud contract from the Pentagon that will be awarded to either Microsoft or Amazon, Bloomberg reported.
Trump did not say whether he would take the unprecedented move of intervening and blocking the contract from being awarded to either Microsoft or Amazon, the two remaining companies in the race, according to Bloomberg. However, Bloomberg cited a person familiar with a call between Trump and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida who said that it sounds like the president is thinking about cancelling the deal.
This contract, known as Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure (JEDI), is a winner-take-all contract to build a cloud infrastructure for the Department of Defence to hold sensitive military information. It could be worth as much as $US10 billion over the next 10 years.
Google dropped out of the race in October, and IBM and Oracle got knocked out of the bid in April. Now, it’s down to Amazon and Microsoft – with Amazon and its market-leading Amazon Web Services platform widely expected to win.
Bloomberg reported that Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin wrote a letter to the Pentagon expressing concerns over the contract and spoke with Trump about the matter. Rubio, meanwhile, went so far as to write a letter to national security adviser John Bolton, asking him to delay the awarding of the contract entirely over concerns that there wasn’t enough competition. Rubio spoke with Trump about his concerns, Bloomberg reported.
The letters in question expressed concerns that the terms of the JEDI deal made it so that some companies, including Oracle, could not win the bid. Trump asked his aides to show him these letters and expressed frustration that he didn’t know about these concerns earlier, according to Bloomberg.
Previously, Oracle filed a lawsuit challenging the Pentagon’s bidding process, saying that “JEDI is riddled with improprieties,” and “[Amazon Web Services] made undisclosed employment and bonus offers to at least two DoD (Dept. of Defence) JEDI officials.”
In June, the Pentagon denied these legal allegations and defended its decision to narrow down the race to Microsoft and Amazon.
“Oracle is not in the same class as Microsoft and AWS when it comes to providing commercial IaaS and PaaS cloud services on a broad scale,” the filing said, referring to two key cloud technology offerings – “infrastructure as a service” and “platform as a service.”
On July 12, a federal judge ruled againstOracle’s protest about the bid process favouring AWS. Court of Federal Claims Judge Eric Bruggink rejected Oracle’s arguments, saying “individual conflicts of interest did not impact the procurement.”
In April, Bloomberg reported Trump dined with Oracle CEO Safra Catz, who was part of his presidential transition team in 2016, during a time when Oracle was still in the JEDI race. The White House did not disclose what was discussed at the meeting, although Trump has been openly critical of Amazon. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is also the owner of The Washington Post, which has published news coverage critical of Trump and his administration.
AWS, Oracle and Microsoft declined to comment. Business Insider has reached out to the Department of Defence and the White House for comment, and will update this story if we hear back.
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