Tuesday, October 19

Microsoft loses controversial Pentagon contract

Amazon had complained that Donald Trump had influenced the race because of his “vendetta” against Jeff Bezos. Now the business is being put out to tender.

The Pentagon building in Washington

The Pentagon building in Washington

Microsoft has lost a controversial ten billion dollar order from the US Department of Defense. The Pentagon announced that it would cancel the contract awarded in October 2019 and put it out to tender again. The business that was called “Jedi” (“Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure”) was about cloud computing. The award of the contract was so explosive because it was accompanied by allegations that the former American President Donald Trump had interfered inappropriately.

The award for Microsoft was surprising because the online retailer Amazon with its cloud division AWS was the clear favorite. Amazon sued the decision, claiming it was forced out of the running under pressure from Trump. It was a “personal vendetta”, Trump sees Amazon, its founder Jeff Bezos and the newspaper “Washington Post”, which he owns, as “political enemies” and tried to close the deal with “repeated attacks in public and behind the scenes” influence. Trump has often complained about the newspaper and its critical reports on him.

Microsoft and Amazon could share the job

The legal dispute initiated by Amazon is still ongoing and has slowed down the implementation of the contract. With its decision to re-tender, the Pentagon has now pulled the rip cord and is starting all over again. There are many indications that Microsoft will have to share the contract with Amazon for the planned new edition. The Pentagon announced that it now wanted to select several partners, unlike the first time. So far, Microsoft and Amazon are the only ones who have met the necessary requirements, but other possible suppliers are also being examined.

The original goal of the Jedi mission was to bring the American military into the cloud age and to combine its previously fragmented networks into a uniform system and to upgrade it with artificial intelligence. In addition to Microsoft and Amazon, other technology companies such as Oracle and IBM had initially applied for the business, but then fell out of a pre-selection. The new version of the order will now have a different name and be called Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC).

Microsoft wrote in a blog entry to “respect and accept” the Pentagon’s decision. The authority had to make a “difficult choice”, whether to continue a legal dispute that might have lasted for years or to find another way.