The acquisition battle between Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS) over the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) Cloud contract saw another major development this fall with the announcement that the DOD will again award the JEDI contract to Microsoft following corrective action. This blog provides an update on the JEDI protest, which has potential implications for the government contracting community.
On September 4, 2020, after taking corrective action to reassess its evaluation of AWS’ and Microsoft’s proposals, the DOD announced that it would again award the JEDI contract to Microsoft. Within days of this announcement, AWS issued a public statement on its website titled, “JEDI: Why we will continue to protest this politically corrupted contract award,” wherein AWS explained that the DOD’s evaluation process remained flawed due to, among other things, improper political influence, and, in part, pointed fingers directly at President Trump and his administration for preventing senior DOD officials from answering DOD Inspector General questions about JEDI-related communications between the White House and DOD.
Subsequent to the award and AWS’ testimonial, the Court of Federal Claims (COFC) held a conference between the parties to discuss next steps, recognizing AWS’ intention to protest the re-award to Microsoft before the COFC. Here, because the JEDI procurement is governed by competitive acquisition procedures, post-award debriefings were required and filed with the Court. AWS then had until October 9, 2020 to file its amended complaint. Both parties had until October 23, 2020 to file renewed motions for further discovery if either believes that the administrative record presently filed with the Court is deficient. In previous discovery filings, AWS has pushed to depose various Trump administration officials, as well as President Trump, to support its claims of improper political influence. It is highly likely that AWS’ renewed discovery motion will contain similar requests. The judge presiding over this dispute, Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith, has until December 4, 2020 to rule on these motions. If AWS is successful in its request for further discovery, this protest is again far from over since the protest’s briefing schedule will likely have to be extended to allow for depositions and/or additional document requests.
Presently, performance on the JEDI contract has been stayed until February 2021. However, based on AWS’ very public announcement, the battle over this lucrative $10 billion procurement is far from over.