Pentagon's inspector general says Microsoft's JEDI cloud win should stand

The DoD's Inspector General, noting it received only limited cooperation from the White House, still says the $10 billion JEDI contract, won by Microsoft, doesn't seem to have been influenced by President Donald Trump.

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Credit: ZDNet

The U.S. Department of Defense's Inspector General says that Microsoft's win of the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract doesn't seem to have been influenced by President Donald Trump. In its investigation report, made public on April 15, the Inspector General also said awarding JEDI to a single company, rather than dividing it up, still stands.

In its report, the Inspector General also acknowledged that it only received limited cooperation from the White House, however. From the 313-page Inspector General's report:

"We sought to review whether there was any White House influence on the JEDI cloud procurement. We could not review this matter fully because of the assertion of a 'presidential communications privilege,"' which resulted in several DoD witnesses being instructed by the DoD Office of General Counsel not to answer our questions about potential communications between White House and DoD officials about JEDI. Therefore, we could not definitively determine the full extent or nature of interactions that administration officials had, or may have had, with senior DoD officials regarding the JEDI Cloud procurement. "

I reached out to Microsoft and AWS for comment on today's report. No word back from either so far.

Update (Microsoft's response): "The Inspector General's report makes clear the DoD established a proper procurement process. It's now apparent that Amazon bid too high a price and is seeking a do-over so it can bid again. As the IG's report indicates, Amazon has proprietary information about Microsoft's bid that it should never have had. At this stage, Amazon is both delaying critical work for the nation's military and trying to undo the mistake it made when it bid too high a price" (frankly) said Frank Shaw, Microsoft's head of corporate communications.

Update 2: Now in full blog post form, here's even more from Microsoft about the report and the JEDI process in general.

Update No. 3 (AWS' response from the evening of April 15): "This report doesn't tell us much. It says nothing about the merits of the award, which we know are highly questionable based on the Judge's recent statements and the government's request to go back and take corrective action. And, it's clear that this report couldn't assess political interference because several DoD witnesses were instructed by the White House not to answer the IG's questions about communications between the White House and DoD officials. The White House's refusal to cooperate with the IG's investigation is yet another blatant attempt to avoid a meaningful and transparent review of the JEDI contract award," an AWS spokesperson said.

After Microsoft was awarded the $10 billion, 10-year JEDI contract, Amazon Web Services filed a suit claiming Trump's interference played a big part in Microsoft's win

Throughout much of the bidding process, Amazon was expected by many to be the triumphant bidder. In the later rounds, Amazon and Microsoft emerged as the two final bidders in the winner-take-all deal. (Google dropped out of the JEDI bidding late last year, while Oracle and IBM were eliminated earlier this year. ) But in August last year, the Pentagon said it was putting the JEDI contract on hold after Trump complained about potential conflicts of interest in the process. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has been targeted by Trump as a political thorn because of his ownership of The Washington Post.  

In February, a U.S. Federal Court judge granted Amazon Web Services' request that work on the JEDI be temporarily halted.

The Inspector General's report did find that the DoD improperly disclosed sensitive information about the JEDI decision to AWS after it lost the deal, as noted in Federal News Network's write-up. It also said that the DoD did not redact certain Microsoft proprietary information in its disclosures to AWS.