JEDI Contract to Have Only One Master

The US Department of Defense has confirmed that a massive cloud-computing contract potentially worth $10bn will be awarded to a single contractor.

Rumors had circulated that the lucrative Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract might be jointly awarded to Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. However, a Pentagon spokesman said this morning that the award would not be split. 

In an email to news site Breaking Defense, public affairs officer Lt. Col. Robert Carver wrote: "DoD will not ‘split the award,’ as the requirement remains for a single award and the solicitation calls for a single award.”

Under the JEDI contract, the DoD would consolidate most of its more than 500 cloud contracts into a single general-purpose pathfinder contract. The planned change would allow the department to implement high-speed, AI-assisted Multi-Domain Operations and take advantage of emerging technologies. 

The JEDI mega-contract was awarded to Microsoft on October 25, 2019. However, in February 2020, a federal judge in Washington ordered the company to halt all work on the project after rival contractor Amazon put forward a legal challenge over how the contract was awarded.

In the challenge, Amazon has suggested that a feud between the company's chief executive, Jeff Bezos, and American president Donald Trump resulted in Microsoft's winning the contract. Amazon had been considered a front-runner to receive the contract after building cloud services for the Central Intelligence Agency. 

In a sealed opinion, Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith of the Court of Federal Claims ordered all work on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project to cease until Amazon’s legal challenge was resolved. 

Legal challenges have not been issued by other rival companies IBM, Oracle, and Google, which similarly lost out to Microsoft on this occasion. Google dropped out of the running for the contract in 2018, while Oracle and IBM were deemed not up to the challenge in early 2019. 

Speaking after the JEDI contract was awarded to Microsoft, the Department of Defense said: “The acquisition process was conducted in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. All offerors were treated fairly and evaluated consistently with the solicitation’s stated evaluation criteria.”

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