Amazon: Trump used “improper pressure” to block AWS from a DOD cloud contract

Enlarge / The JEDI contract is central to DOD’s efforts to quickly deploy cloud technology. But the winning contract offer has been controversial right from the start – and Amazon now claims that President Trump has put much more than a finger on the scales to ensure that AWS is lost.

Department of Defense

In an editorial file released today by the US Federal Court of Claims, Amazon lawyers have stated that the loss of Amazon Web Service from the Department of Defense Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing contract to Microsoft’s Azure was of “inappropriate pressure from President Donald J. Trump, who launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks to send the JEDI contract away from AWS to harm his alleged political enemy – Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder and CEO of AWS’s parent company ,, Inc. (“Amazon”) and owner of the Washington Post. “

The lawsuit quotes Trump’s instructions to former Secretary of Defense James Mattis to remove “Amazon” from the contract, as told by Mattis’ former chief speechwriter, and numerous other incidents of direct interference by Trump in contract competition, including ordering an “independent” revision of the contract by Minister of Defense Mark Esper in August 2019.

JEDI was awarded to Microsoft in October. The $ 10 billion contract is for a DOD-wide enterprise Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) program that provides calculation and storage services – including delivery to the “tactical edge” “, allowing troops in the field to access critical data. The initial spending planned for the first year of the contract would be just $ 1 million – but would be followed by a basic ordering period of two years and up to eight years of optional extensions to 2029 with a capped value of $ 10 billion.

  • The before (left) and (hopefully) after (right) architectural designs of DOD cloud.


  • All types of services belong to JEDI, from classifications to Top Secret.

  • Only $ 1 million is guaranteed – so $ 10 billion can be a dream if the winner cannot deliver.

Due to the size of the contract, AWS was long believed to be the front runner – AWS already provides DOD with cloud services and other government agencies that meet most of the security requirements of the JEDI contract. But Azure from Microsoft was also a strong contender, and the internal cloud capabilities of the DOD (provided by the Defense Information Systems Agency) have relied heavily on Microsoft technology. And Amazon’s lawyers claim that after Trump injected himself into the procurement meeting, the DOD “took numerous actions to systematically remove the benefits of AWS’s technological and experiential superiority and artificially improve the playing field between AWS and its competitors, including Microsoft. “

The submission cites as an example the decision of the DOD in mid-2018 not to evaluate past results as part of the competition contrary to the requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) – when “only AWS had a remote contract comparable to the size and complexity of JEDI. “

“However, these errors were not only the result of arbitrary and erratic decision making,” the petitioner said. “DoD’s substantive and profound errors are hard to understand and impossible to assess apart from the repeatedly expressed determination of the president to” ruin Amazon “in the president’s own words.” As a result, Amazon lawyers claimed: “Basic justice requires a new assessment of proposals and a new award decision,” and the court must decide “whether the United States President should be allowed to use the DoD budget for his own personal and political goals pursue. “