Pentagon Decides to Cancel the Controversial $10 Billion Cloud-Computing Contract

The Defense Department, on July 5, 2021, announced that it would not be going forward with the cloud-computing project that had been at the end of much controversy and claims of interference by the Trump administration. In 2019, the 10-year JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) contract was received by Microsoft after a battle amongst Amazon and other tech leaders for the deal aimed at modernizing the military’s cloud-computing services. The move was essential as much of the military still operates on outdated computer systems; thus, Defence Department desired to update those while also protecting all classified files. 

The JEDI contract needed to be carried out on a large scale, and so Amazon was seen as the front-runner. However, the contract was won by Microsoft, forcing Amazon to sue and block the contract contesting that Microsoft had no technical capabilities to carry out the needs of the military. They argued that the process had been interfered by the Trump administration, as is evidenced by the President’s repeated criticism of Jeff Bezos, who is also the owner of the Washington Post. The newspaper was known to aggressively cover the workings of the Trump administration and was often referred to by Donal Trump as“Amazon Washington Post.” The government at that time had also criticized the newspaper for spreading fake news.

In January 2021, Pentagon had made Congress aware that it would walk away from the contract if the federal court agreed to take on the case raising the issue of, whether the former president interfered with the process of awarding a $10 Billion Contract to Microsoft instead of Amazon. Mainly because of the fear that it would result in heavy litigation, something the defense department does not want to get into. 

Now, Pentagon had finally dismissed the whole contract stating that it no longer meets their needs. But they claimed that they would solicit bids from Amazon and Microsoft on upcoming cloud-computing contracts. The decision comes as a relief to all parties involved as it puts a quiet end to what had been a long legal battle and duel of technological claims.

The defense Department has instead proposed new cloud architecture referred to as Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability. They have made clear that only Amazon and Microsoft Web Services have the capability to build it. Their statements also indicated that they would probably buy technologies from both companies instead of giving a full contract to one of them. 

One of the major reasons for seeking services from a number of companies is so that there is less vulnerability to exploit. The Pentagon does not want to rely on only one company for its technology so that there is less chance of leakage of classified information.