Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with comments from an Amazon blog post published Friday, May 8.
The company filed a second, concurrent bid protest this week directly with the Department of Defense asking for more clarity around the corrective action it has proposed taking on the JEDI contract. This comes after a federal claims court judge granted the DOD a 120-day remand to “reconsider the aspects of the procurement challenged in [Amazon’s] protest” of the $10 billion commercial cloud contract.
The protest has not been made public.
According to an Amazon Web Services spokesperson, the DOD has amended the JEDI solicitation for a key part of the contract that dealt with a pricing scenario for online cloud storage and allowed both Amazon and original winner Microsoft to submit revised proposals. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims previously ruled that DOD’s evaluation of this factor did not comply with the contract’s requirements.
But the amended language is “ambiguous,” according to Amazon. The company filed the new protest after its “repeated efforts” to get more information from the Pentagon on the nature of the updates were denied, which it says could lead to a lack of common understanding and an “apples-to-oranges price evaluation” for the companies.
“AWS is committed to ensuring it receives a fair and objective review on an award decision that the Court found to be flawed,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “AWS repeatedly sought clarity from the DoD around ambiguous aspects of the amended solicitation and the DoD refused to answer our questions. We simply want to ensure a common understanding of the DoD’s requirements and eliminate ambiguity that could impact a fair evaluation.”
Asked about the new protest, Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Robert Carver told FedScoop: “DOD continues to execute the procedures outlined in the Motion for Voluntary Remand granted last month with the intent of delivering this critically-needed capability to our warfighters as quickly as possible.”
With the new protest, more cutthroat mudslinging between the companies ensued. Microsoft came out with a blog post Thursday accusing Amazon of purposefully blocking its work with the DOD on JEDI.
“This latest filing – filed with the DoD this time – is another example of Amazon trying to bog down JEDI in complaints, litigation and other delays designed to force a do-over to rescue its failed bid,” Microsoft’s Frank X. Shaw wrote in the post. He continues: “And now Amazon is at it again, trying to grind this process to a halt, keeping vital technology from the men and women in uniform — the very people Amazon says it supports.”
Shaw wrote that Microsoft isn’t aware of the contents of Amazon’s protest because it filed the complaint “out of view of the public and directly with the DoD.”
“This latest roadblock is disappointing but not surprising,” he said.
In response to the blog post, Amazon’s spokesperson said: “It’s not surprising that Microsoft is trying to posture here, but anybody who’s studied the cloud computing space will tell you that AWS has a much more functional, capable, cost-effective, and operationally strong offering.”
Additionally, the factor that DOD amended in the JEDI solicitation is but one of many Amazon took objection to in its original bid protest with the Court of Federal Claims. The company’s spokesperson said it hopes to see all of them addressed, not just the one.
“We’re eager to see the full array of mistakes considered and assessed,” the spokesperson said.
Amazon, too, published a blog post on the matter calling Microsoft’s comments “nothing more than misleading noise intended to distract those following the protest.”
“To be clear, we won’t back down on this front regardless of whether Microsoft chooses to try to bully its way to an unjust victory,” wrote Drew Herdener, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide communications. “We also won’t allow blatant political interference or inferior technology to become an acceptable standard.”