The Defense Department is asking the federal judge that ordered a halt to its JEDI Cloud contract for a do-over.
In a motion the government filed with the Court of Federal Claims Thursday, attorneys asked Judge Patricia E. Campbell Smith to pause Amazon’s legal challenge to JEDI and remand the case back to DoD procurement officials for the next four months.
The Pentagon would use that time to reconsider the very aspects of the JEDI contract that the judge faulted in her decision last month to issue a preliminary injunction.
In the court filing, DoD said it now wants to reconsider the technical approach it used for the part of the contract at issue – “Price scenario 6.” Once it does so, it plans to ask Amazon Web Services and Microsoft to submit “limited” revisions to the bids they submitted last year that ultimately resulted in the award to Microsoft.
“We are pleased that the DoD has acknowledged ‘substantial and legitimate’ issues that affected the JEDI award decision, and that corrective action is necessary,” the company said in an emailed statement Thursday evening. “We look forward to complete, fair, and effective corrective action that fully insulates the re-evaluation from political influence and corrects the many issues affecting the initial flawed award.”
The Defense Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday evening.
But Microsoft said it stood in support of DoD’s request, even though it would mean even more delays to meaningful work on the contract. The department had planned to issue Microsoft its first substantive task order in mid-February to start building the unclassified portions of JEDI, before the judge intervened.
“We support their decision to reconsider a small number of factors as it is likely the fastest way to resolve all issues and quickly provide the needed modern technology to people across our armed forces,” Frank Shaw, a Microsoft spokesman said in a statement. “Throughout this process, we’ve focused on listening to the needs of the DoD, delivering the best product, and making sure nothing we did delayed the procurement process. We are not going to change this approach now.”
As part of its lawsuit, AWS detailed a long list of reasons the contract should be overturned, including its allegations that it was biased by President Donald Trump’s public comments expressing opposition to Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos.
In her ruling imposing the work stoppage, Judge Campbell-Smith made clear that she found the problems with the price scenario DoD now wants to reconsider to be serious enough that she did not need to consider the rest of Amazon’s allegations before deciding to issue a preliminary injunction.
The narrow ruling had to do with the way DoD asked vendors to handle data storage as part of the JEDI project. The judge found that DoD allowed Microsoft to get by with a solution that shouldn’t have been allowed under the JEDI solicitation’s terms.
The exact details of the storage approach Microsoft proposed were redacted from court filings. But the judge found they did not comply with a provision in DoD’s request for proposals that required information stored in JEDI’s “Cloud data warehouse” to be “online” and “highly accessible” to JEDI users “without human intervention.”
The ruling suggested Microsoft was able to bid at a lower price because it proposed a “non-compliant” approach to data storage.
But in Thursday’s filing, the department said it might also reexamine other parts of the contract. DoD also wants to take another look at the approaches Microsoft and Amazon proposed for the online software marketplaces that could be available to JEDI users. However, the department doesn’t expect to ask the bidders to revise their proposals along those lines.
In any event, the government’s filing suggested that the corrective actions DoD now wants to take — after standing its ground through more than a year of litigation involving three separate bid protests — could make the current one irrelevant.
“During the proposed remand, the agency potentially could make decisions that would moot this action, in whole or in part, and may obviate the need for further litigation in this court,” government attorneys wrote. “Therefore, we have requested a remand in good faith.”