Amazon claims that the President of the United States was responsible for blocking the company from a major military cloud contract due to a personal dislike for company CEO Jeff Bezos.
In a heavily redacted protest document, the company claimed that Microsoft won the JEDI contract - potentially worth $10bn over 10 years - due to "improper pressure" from the Commander in Chief.
Make America Procure Again
"Throughout the JEDI procurement process, based on AWS's depth of experience, superior technology, and proven record of success in handling the most sensitive government data, AWS was the consensus frontrunner to aid DoD in this important modernization effort," the protest states.
"Yet when the time came to make the award, DoD chose Microsoft. Any meaningful review of that decision reveals egregious errors on nearly every evaluation factor, from ignoring the unique strengths of AWS's proposal, to overlooking clear failures in Microsoft's proposal to meet JEDI's technical requirements, to deviating altogether from DoD's own evaluation criteria to give a false sense of parity between the two offerors. These fundamental errors alone require reversal."
The company claims that this decision was "the result of improper pressure from President Donald J. Trump, who launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks to steer the JEDI Contract away from AWS to harm his perceived political enemy-Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder and CEO of AWS's parent company, Amazon.com, Inc. ("Amazon"), and owner of the Washington Post.
"DoD's substantial and pervasive errors are hard to understand and impossible to assess separate and apart from the President's repeatedly expressed determination to, in the words of the President himself, 'screw Amazon.' Basic justice requires reevaluation of proposals and a new award decision. The stakes are high. The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends."
The "screw Amazon" claim came from a book by Guy Snodgrass, a speechwriter for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who alleged that the President tried to get the then-Secretary to stop AWS from winning the award. Separate media reports in April 2018 claimed Trump was looking to block Amazon, and the President has repeatedly shared fabrications about Amazon costing the Post Office money.
Last year, Axios reported on five sources who claimed the President was “obsessed with Amazon." The President then tweeted: “I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the US), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!”
Two days later, he continued: “While we are on the subject, it is reported that the US Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon. That amounts to Billions of Dollars. The Failing NY Times reports that “the size of the company’s lobbying staff has ballooned,” and that does not include the Fake Washington Post, which is used as a “lobbyist” and should so REGISTER. If the P.O. “increased its parcel rates, Amazon’s shipping costs would rise by $2.6 Billion.” This Post Office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs (and taxes) now!”
Later, he added: “I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy. Amazon should pay these costs (plus) and not have them bourne by the American Taxpayer. Many billions of dollars. P.O. leaders don’t have a clue (or do they?)!”
Amazon has invested in its own shipping infrastructure, and Trump’s comments are factually incorrect: USPS is legally required to not ship at a loss, Amazon pays the same bulk rate as everyone else, and the success of the company has led to revenue growth at the post office.
In its legal filing, Amazon states that Trump's public animosity to the company was "on full display for the whole country to see, including the members of the TEB, the Source Selection Evaluation Board ("SSEB"), the Source Selection Advisory Committee ("SSAC"), and the Source Selection Authority ("SSA"), all of whom serve under President Trump's command."
Simultaneously, the JEDI contract was under sustained attack by Oracle-backed lobbyists, who managed to get a document claiming an Amazon-JEDI conspiracy onto the President's desk. Multiple investigations into the contract cleared Amazon of wrongdoing.
Feeling the heat
After this public pressure, along with alleged private pressure on several Defense Secretaries, Amazon claims that the "DoD took numerous actions to systematically remove the advantages of AWS's technological and experiential superiority and artificially level the playing field between AWS and its competitors, including Microsoft."
The company alleges several unique last-minute changes to the contract that it believes were designed to make it look worse, including no longer reviewing past performance.
Months after the evaluation of the initial proposal, Amazon claims the DoD changed its interpretation of the RFP's classified infrastructure requirements, "effectively rejecting AWS's long-standing plan to utilize existing data centers already certified for classified use and instead requiring AWS to build new dedicated classified infrastructure for DoD."
The document adds: "What is most remarkable here is that consistent with the expressed desires of its Commander in Chief - DoD consistently and repeatedly made prejudicial errors, at every step along the way, that systematically favored Microsoft and harmed AWS - errors that grew in magnitude at each stage, and that mirrored the increasing tactics from President Trump to thwart the award of the contract to AWS."
A spokesperson for Microsoft contended: spokeswoman for Microsoft, said: “We have confidence in the qualified staff at the Department of Defense, and we believe the facts will show they ran a detailed, thorough and fair process in determining the needs of the warfighter were best met by Microsoft.”