Amazon Web Services opposes the Defense Department’s decision to reconsider certain aspects of the government’s controversial enterprise cloud award to Microsoft, arguing that the proposed action by the department isn’t “fair and rational” and will “preserve” Microsoft’s win, according to a March 24 court filing.
The opposition by AWS is in response to a Pentagon filing earlier in the month asking the court for 120 days to reconsider specific evaluation criteria it made in awarding in the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract. A federal judge implemented a temporary restraining order after the court decided that AWS was likely to prove that the Pentagon wrongly evaluated a data storage proposal.
The Department of Defense responded by asking permission of the court to reconsider its evaluation of a specific storage aspect from the original request for proposals. Pentagon lawyers wrote that the department would issue a solicitation amendment and accept “limited proposal revisions” from Microsoft and AWS.
The proposed revision addresses one RFP factor challenged by Amazon, but the company had challenged the DoD’s decision-making process on five other factors of the proposal evaluation. AWS opposes the DoD’s latest response because it argues that the request is too narrow in scope.
“Even if taken at face value, DoD’s proposed corrective action fails to address in any meaningful way how it would resolve the technical issues AWS has raised, or which specific technical challenges it intends to address,” Amazon lawyers wrote.
AWS also argues that the corrective action will preserve Microsoft’s win by not allowing AWS to make price adjustments. AWS also maintains that Microsoft’s storage offering doesn’t meet the technical standards required by the RFP, disqualifying the latter company from competition.
“In plain terms, DoD’s proposed corrective action focuses on allowing Microsoft to fix its fatally deficient proposal, while paralyzing AWS’s proposed pricing in the face of planned changes to the RFP’s requirements,” Amazon lawyers wrote in a motion.
Federal Times reach out to Microsoft for a statement, but a spokesperson referred to one given March 12 by company spokesman Frank Shaw, who said the Microsoft supports the DoD’s decision to reconsider “a small number of factors.”
“We remain confident that Microsoft’s proposal was technologically superior, continues to offer the best value, and is the right choice for the DoD,” Shaw said at the time.
In a statement, the Department of Defense spokesperson Lt. Col. Robert Carver said the department “disagrees” with Amazon’s arguments.
“As outlined in DOD’s Motion for Voluntary Remand, we believe that the best and most reasonable path forward is to issue a solicitation amendment and accept limited proposal revisions before conducting a re-evaluation of both proposals," Carver said. "The Department maintains that the JEDI Cloud contract was awarded based upon a fair and unbiased source selection process, and any re-evaluation on remand will also be conducted in a fair and unbiased manner. Our goal remains to get this much-needed capability to the warfighter as quickly as possible in compliance with the law and the court.”
In a statement, an AWS spokesperson said the company was “pleased to see the DoD recognize the need to take corrective action,” but added that the company remains concerned about the fairness of the proposed reevaluation.
“Instead of addressing the breadth of problems in its proposed corrective action, the DoD’s proposal focuses only on providing Microsoft a ‘do-over’ on its fatally flawed bid while preventing AWS from adjusting its own pricing in response to the DoD’s new storage criteria,” the spokesperson said. “This attempt to gerrymander the corrective action without fixing all of the serious flaws pointed out in our complaint raises significant questions.”
The JEDI cloud, potentially worth billions of dollars over 10 years, has faced extended delays throughout the last two years due to several protests.
Update: This story was updated with a statement from the Department of Defense.
Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.