Amazon responds to Pentagon’s latest JEDI decision: “Continues to protest this politically corrupt contract award”

On Friday, local time, the Pentagon confirmed its decision to award the JEDI contract to Microsoft,media reported. Now, Amazon has responded to the decision, vowing to “continue to protest against this politically corrupt contract award.” In their strongly worded blog post, they insisted that the Defense Department was biased in Microsoft’s favor and that corrective action was only an opportunity for Microsoft to amend its “non-compliant proposals” and ultimately made the same “defective, biased and politically corrupt decision.”

Amazon insists it has better technology, saying it is still the only cloud service that is recognized to support the full classification of U.S. government data.

In their posts, they directly attacked the Trump administration:

President Trump’s behavior has a recurring pattern when he is accused of doing something bad: first he denies doing it, and then he tries to push it aside, distracting people and delaying the investigation (so people get bored and forget about it). Then he will eventually double down on the investigation into the bad behavior. On JEDI, President Trump reportedly ordered former Defense Secretary Mattis to “suppress” Amazon, publicly interfered with an ongoing purchase, instructed his subordinates to conduct unauthyranted “censorship” before announcing the award of the contract, and then obstructed an investigation into his own political interference. Corrective action is used to block our litigation, delay further investigations, and mistakenly give the impression that there is only one problem to solve, giving the impression that the Department of Defense is actually addressing some of the issues. While corrective action can be used to effectively address protests, in practice it has not changed much and wasted five months of time that could have been used to address these serious problems, only to divert our broader attention and reaffirm a decision influenced by the President’s self-interest. When we objected to the Department of Defense taking corrective action, we anticipated that this would happen, and it did. By continuing to procrastinate, distract and avoid addressing these very serious problems, the Department of Defense is becoming its own worst enemy, especially in accelerating the progress of things.

Amazon said it would continue to seek an impartial review, suggesting it would continue to fight the issue.

Here’s the full content of the Amazon post:

Earlier today, the Defense Department announced that it had completed corrective action and confirmed the JEDI contract previously awarded to Microsoft. Corrective action should provide the Department of Defense with an opportunity to address many of the major assessment errors outlined in our protest, ensure a fair and level playing field, and ultimately expedite the conclusion of litigation. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Defence turned down the opportunity.

When the Department of Defense announced its corrective action plan in March, we objected because it was clear that this was nothing more than a “re-start” by Microsoft to amend its non-compliant proposal. Given that the Department of Defense does not agree to meaningfully review many of the assessment deficiencies outlined in our protests, we say that corrective action is likely to lead to another award of contracts based on political and improper influence, rather than on the comparative advantage of the two products. This is exactly what we have found today, and the Reassessment by the Ministry of Defence is merely an attempt to validate a flawed, biased and politically corrupt decision. It should also be noted that the Ministry of Defence has made price a major factor in previous decisions. This time, AWS offered tens of millions of dollars less. The MoD’s decision to deliberately ignore the apparent cost advantages offered by AWS is further indication that this corrective action was never intended to be fair.

As we continue to pursue fair and impartial review and ensure that our country has the best technical capabilities to protect itself, we want to reflect on how and why we have come this far.

AWS is proud to support our nation’s military and is proud of our role in helping U.S. government customers succeed in their missions. Today, more than 6,500 government agencies rely on the AWS cloud for unparalleled security, agility, innovation, and reliability. It is our commitment to supporting the U.S. military, and our experience in gaining trust within the intelligence community and helping deliver transformative results, that has led us to participate in JEDI’s bid. As we do now, we feel strongly that our technology is unique and can help our military maintain its advantage on today’s and tomorrow’s digital battlefields.

We are still based on the facts. AWS is a leader in cloud computing, and from any objective point of view, AWS has great technology. AWS has been named leader for the 10th consecutive year in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant of Cloud Infrastructure as a Service. AWS has more services and more features in those services than any other cloud computing provider, and the number is huge. AWS provides more secure services, more operational performance, and remains the only certified cloud provider that supports all data classifications in the U.S. government. AWS also has a broader ecosystem of ISVs and SaaS partners, and their software runs on AWS, so customers can use the same software in the cloud that they’ve been running on-site. We welcome competition, but any objective, purely product-based Apple assessment of Apple will obviously lead to a different conclusion from the Department of Defense.

When the Ministry of Defence announced the award of the original JEDI contract on the evening of Friday, 25 October 2019, we repeatedly tried to seek clarification on the errors in the assessment that affected all six technical factors. We try to do this through the reporting process, which is an essential part of government procurement. Our team worked around the clock that weekend to meet the MoD’s response deadline and submitted 265 questions, but the MoD refused to provide a meaningful response. Most of these questions remain unansred nearly a year later.

Throughout the litigation, as more information came to light, we became more confident in our position (some of the information has been made public and others have not yet been made public). In February, a federal appeals court halted JEDI. The court found that AWS’s protest was justified and that Microsoft’s proposal was likely to fail to meet a key tender requirement and was likely flawed and ineligible for an award. Our protest detailed the prevalent nature of these errors (affecting all six technical assessment factors) and the judge prevented the Department of Defense from moving forward because the first issue she examined showed serious flaws.

AWS remains deeply concerned that the award of jeDI contracts creates a dangerous precedent that threatens the integrity of the federal procurement system and the ability of our nation’s warriors and civil servants to obtain the best technology. Others have raised similar concerns, arguing that defense officials are acting on the basis of a desire to please the president, not to do the right thing. This was illustrated by the refusal to cooperate with the Inspector General of the Ministry of Defence, who sought to investigate allegations of presidential interference in JEDI procurement in order to direct AWS not to receive the award. Instead of co-operation, the White House imposed “presidential communications privileges” that led senior Defense Department officials to do not answer questions about JEDI communications between the White House and the Department of Defense. This raises the question, what do they have to hide?

The constant dismissal of inspectors from all parts of our Government, civil servants entrusted with ensuring ethical behaviour, is another worrying trend. The president dismissed what he saw as a political threat simply because of their work, including the demoted of the Acting Inspector General of the Department of Defense days before the JEDI report. A similar pattern has emerged within the Ministry of Defence, where senior military leadership is unable to exercise their correct judgement without facing reprisals. Even those who serve their country and seek justice and fairness under the law are sidelined by the president to support overt nepotism. Similarly, the president has recently become fearless, flaunting his role in politically motivated influence on government contracts. Discussing a recent contract by the U.S. Navy to select a Wisconsin company to build a new $5.5 billion frigate, President Trump said, “I’ve heard that mobility is one of the important factors in your selection to sign a contract… The other is your position in Wisconsin, if you want to know the truth. “

President Trump’s behavior has a recurring pattern when he is accused of doing something bad: first he denies doing it, and then he tries to push it aside, distracting people and delaying the investigation (so people get bored and forget about it). Then he will eventually double down on the investigation into the bad behavior. On JEDI, President Trump reportedly ordered former Defense Secretary Mattis to “suppress” Amazon, publicly interfered with an ongoing purchase, instructed his subordinates to conduct unauthyranted “censorship” before announcing the award of the contract, and then obstructed an investigation into his own political interference. Corrective action is used to block our litigation, delay further investigations, and mistakenly give the impression that there is only one problem to solve, giving the impression that the Department of Defense is actually addressing some of the issues. While corrective action can be used to effectively address protests, in practice it has not changed much and wasted five months of time that could have been used to address these serious problems, only to divert our broader attention and reaffirm a decision influenced by the President’s self-interest. When we objected to the Department of Defense taking corrective action, we anticipated that this would happen, and it did. By continuing to procrastinate, distract and avoid addressing these very serious problems, the Department of Defense is becoming its own worst enemy, especially in accelerating the progress of things.

We strongly disagree with the Ministry of Defence’s misassessment and believe that for the Government and its elected leaders it is essential for our country to procure objectively and without political influence. The question we continue to ask ourselves is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the Budget of the Department of Defense for his personal and political purposes. Throughout the protests, we made it clear that we would not allow blatant political interference or inferior technology to become an acceptable standard. While these decisions will not be easy and we will not take them lightly, we will not back down in the face of targeted political cronyism or illusory corrective actions, and we will continue to pursue impartial, objective and impartial scrutiny.