Oracle to appeal court ruling on Pentagon JEDI cloud contract

Just weeks ago, it appeared the Justice Department was close to granting its $10B cloud contract; now, Oracle is putting up another roadblock.

Oracle is still fighting for a piece of the Pentagon's massive proposed cloud computing contract. On Monday, the Silicon Valley company announced its plans to appeal a recent court ruling that seemingly left Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure as the two remaining contenders for the contract. 

The appeal comes amid other new roadblocks slowing down the bidding process. Just days after he was confirmed as the new Pentagon chief, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he was pausing the bidding process to review complaints about it. Meanwhile, the Pentagon's inspector general also promised to review complaints. 

The Pentagon's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) Cloud contract could be worth more than $10 billion over 10 years. It's expected to include both IaaS and PaaS services in classified and unclassified environments.

Oracle was eliminated from the JEDI bidding process in April 2018. However, the company filed a lawsuit late last year, claiming the Defense Department violated procurement laws. Specifically, Oracle complained that the Defense Department's decision to use just one vendor was unlawful. It also argued that there were conflicts of interest on the part of DoD employees and AWS. The company also argued that certain criteria used to dismiss Oracle from the running were improper for various reasons. 

The Court of Federal Claims dismissed the suit in July, claiming that Oracle has no standing to pursue its complaint against the bidding process. Senior Judge Eric Bruggink wrote that at least one portion of the Pentagon's evaluation criteria was valid -- and by its own admission, Oracle couldn't meet those criteria. 

Specifically, the court ruling notes, the Pentagon required, "No fewer than three physical existing unclassified [Commercial Cloud Offering] data centers within the Customs Territory of the United States... that are all supporting at least one IaaS offering and at least one PaaS offering that are FedRAMP Moderate 'Authorized' by the Joint Authorization Board (JAB) or a Federal agency as demonstrated by official FedRAMP documentation."

Oracle, however, couldn't meet the FedRAMP Moderate "Authorized" requirement. 

At the same time, the court acknowledged that the decision to use just one vendor for JEDI was based on a partially "flawed" process. In its appeal, Oracle is stressing this point. Dorian Daley, Oracle general counsel, gave the following statement on Monday: 

"The Court of Federal Claims opinion in the JEDI bid protest describes the JEDI procurement as unlawful, notwithstanding dismissal of the protest solely on the legal technicality of Oracle's purported lack of standing. Federal procurement laws specifically bar single award procurements such as JEDI absent satisfying specific, mandatory requirements, and the Court in its opinion clearly found DoD did not satisfy these requirements. The opinion also acknowledges that the procurement suffers from many significant conflicts of interest. These conflicts violate the law and undermine the public trust. As a threshold matter, we believe that the determination of no standing is wrong as a matter of law, and the very analysis in the opinion compels a determination that the procurement was unlawful on several grounds."