THE PENTAGON is holding off on awarding its $10bn JEDI contract while the Defence Secretary reviews whether it was rigged in favour of Amazon.
The contract, expected to be awarded to either Amazon or Microsoft later this month, has been criticised by bit-part actor Donald Trump, who argued that the process was biased towards Amazon.
"They are saying it wasn't competitively bid," he said on 18 July "Some of the greatest companies in the world are complaining about it... I will be asking them to look at it very closely to see what's going on because I have had very few things where there has been such complaining."
In a statement, Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith said that Defence Secretary Mark Esper has decided to examine accusations of unfairness before a final decision is made on the controversial contract.
"Keeping his promise to Members of Congress and the American public, Secretary Esper is looking at the Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure (JEDI) programme," Smith said in a statement late on Thursday.
"No decision will be made on the programme until he has completed his examination."
Once completed, the $10bn contract would be one of the largest IT procurements ever made by the US government, and almost certainly the biggest single cloud-computing contract ever awarded.
However, the contracting process for the project, which attracted bids from IBM, Oracle, Amazon, Google and Microsoft, has been marred by issues.
Google announced its withdrawal from the bidding in October after employees called out the company out for violating its now deprecated "Don't be evil" motto by supplying technology to the military. Microsoft employees also published an open letter urging the company not to bid on the project, arguing that doing so would "enhance lethality".
"When we decided to work at Microsoft, we were doing so in the hopes of 'empowering every person on the planet to achieve more,' not with the intent of ending lives and enhancing lethality", the letter said.
Later, IBM Corp and Oracle were eliminated from the race, leaving Microsoft and Amazon as the final contenders. That decision led Oracle to file a lawsuit against the Department of Defence, as the company told the court that contract requirements for the project favoured Amazon.
Objective critics of the deal have suggested that awarding one all-encompassing cloud computing contract to just one company naturally favoured the largest companies in the space. In addition, it would deny the Pentagon the opportunity to pick and choose the best or most suitable cloud services and technologies from across the sector, tying it into just one vendor. µ
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