The Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) has reviewed Microsoft’s JEDI win and found no interference by the Trump administration.
Microsoft stunned the industry when it won the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, worth some $10 billion. Amazon had widely been considered the likely candidate to win the contract, especially given the company’s history of working on sensitive government contracts in the past. In short order, Amazon launched legal challenges to try to have the Pentagon’s decision overturned. One of the alleged discrepancies was disparaging comments President Trump made that Amazon believed may have played a part in Microsoft winning.
With the DOJ watchdog’s report, however, those concerns seem to have been put to rest—albeit with a bit of a caveat. While acknowledging investigators did encounter some interference from the White House, they said: “However, we believe the evidence we received showed that the DoD personnel who evaluated the contract proposals and awarded Microsoft the JEDI Cloud contract were not pressured regarding their decision on the award of the contract by any DoD leaders more senior to them, who may have communicated with the White House.”
At the same time, Microsoft has used the DOJ’s report to accuse Amazon of unfairly trying to gain an advantage in the bidding process. In a blog post following the DOJ’s report, Microsoft said the following:
“That brings us to where we are today. The DoD is seeking to be responsive to the issue the Court raised in issuing the preliminary injunction. But that’s not good enough for Amazon. Amazon doesn’t want a solution that addresses the Court’s concerns and sticks to the original pricing in the competitors’ bids. According to its brief, it wants no ‘constraint on the offerors’ ability to revise their pricing.’
“This, according to the government, is a ‘a transparent effort to undercut Microsoft on price, now that [Amazon] has a target at which to aim.’ Amazon dresses its argument in the language of fairness and level playing fields, but the government’s brief looks right through it: ‘That AWS now regrets its pricing strategy is no reason to allow AWS a do-over, after it gained significant information about its competitor’s pricing, enabling it to use the currently prevailing information asymmetry to underbid its competitor in an effort to secure the contract.’”
While not clearing Microsoft to move forward with the contract, the IG’s findings certainly lend weight to Microsoft’s win and undermine Amazon’s complaints.