Amazon asks judge to block Microsoft from working on JEDI cloud contract while court considers bias question

The Pentagon. (Flickr Photo / David B. Gleason cc2.0)

Amazon’s crusade to overturn the Department of Defense’s award of a lucrative cloud contract to rival Microsoft inched forward this week with a new court filing.

What’s new: Amazon filed a motion Wednesday asking a federal judge to block Microsoft from working on any substantive tasks for the JEDI project while the court considers the matter. The motion makes good on Amazon’s previous pledge to try to pause work on the contract while the legal challenge is underway.

Why it matters: Amazon and Microsoft have been locked in fierce competition for months over the Pentagon’s JEDI project, a $10 billion, 10-year cloud contract. The rivalry has become a legal dispute in the wake of the Defense Department’s surprise decision to award the contract to Microsoft last year. Amazon’s latest move could spell an even more protracted process as the issue is adjudicated.

What Amazon says: An Amazon Web Services spokesperson called the motion “common practice” in a statement. The company said it is seeking the injunction to ensure that “numerous evaluation errors and blatant political interference that impacted the JEDI award” can be reviewed before the project moves forward.

“AWS is absolutely committed to supporting the DoD’s modernization efforts and to an expeditious legal process that resolves this matter as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said.

Background: The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project will mean big money and a jewel in the crown of whichever cloud company ultimately wins the contract. Amazon was long seen as the favorite for JEDI until President Donald Trump, a frequent critic of the company, got involved. Amazon is citing his previous statements and the decision to review the bidding process at the last minute as evidence of political bias influencing the decision. Microsoft has remained quiet on the issue, stressing the merits of its technology and the company’s eagerness to get the job done.

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