Amazon on Sunday formally protested the Pentagon’s decision to award a $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft, saying in a court filing it was “the result of improper pressure from President Donald J. Trump” to deny Amazon the deal.
“Basic justice requires reevaluation of proposals and a new award decision,” Amazon said in a court filing. “The stakes are high. The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends.”
Amazon, Microsoft, and other companies had each entered bids for the Defense Department’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program, a massive cloud computing project, and the deal was ultimately awarded to Microsoft in late October. Amazon claims in its filing with the Court of Federal Claims that the Pentagon ignored technical advantages of Amazon Web Services cloud technology and its own criteria to justify giving the contract to Microsoft as a result of Trump’s bias against Amazon and CEO Jeff Bezos.
The company is asking the court to overturn the decision and order a new evaluation of the competing bids.
“DoD’s substantial and pervasive errors are hard to understand and impossible to assess separate and apart from the President’s repeatedly expressed determination to, in the words of the President himself, ‘screw Amazon,'” according to Amazon’s filing. The quote was a reference to an alleged statement by Trump recounted in a biography of former Defense Secretary James Mattis by his onetime speechwriter Guy Snodgrass.
In a statement, Microsoft also stood by the Pentagon’s decision.
“We have confidence in the qualified staff at the Department of Defense, and we believe the facts will show they ran a detailed, thorough and fair process in determining the needs of the warfighter were best met by Microsoft,” a company spokesperson said in a statement shared with Fast Company. “We’ve worked hard to continually innovate over the past two years to create better, differentiated offerings for our customer.”
Trump has for years condemned Amazon, partly over his allegations that the Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos, is biased against him, and he explicitly said in July he might intervene in the contract selection process.
The Pentagon has maintained it followed its normal selection process and wasn’t subject to outside influence, the Washington Post reports.
Some of the details of Amazon’s issues with the selection process are redacted in the public version of its complaint. Among other things, the company says the Defense Department arbitrarily changed its requirements to effectively require that Amazon propose building new data centers, forcing the company to raise its bid cost.
“There was no technical basis for this change—which could only impact AWS as the only cloud provider with existing classified infrastructure—and it resulted in an additional [redacted] increase to AWS’s total evaluated price,” according to the filing.
The company also alleges that the Defense Department ignored what it says are security advantages of its hypervisor technology, which manages how cloud systems run on physical hardware, over Microsoft’s tech.