US and Microsoft complain about Amazons JEDI redactions – Business Insider
The US and Microsoft are not happy about how Amazon selectively shared information about the bidding process for the multibillion-dollar Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract with the Pentagon.
At one point, Amazon was considered a shoo-in for the contract that could be worth $10 billion over 10 years, but the Department of Defense awarded the contract to Microsoft in a surprise upset.
Amazon is now protesting that Microsoft victory.
But the way Amazon is pursuing its protest has already ruffled a few feathers.
The US and Microsoft filed a formal complaint this week over how Amazon selectively shared information about the bidding process for the multibillion-dollar Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract with the Pentagon.
At one point, Amazon was considered a shoo-in to win the contract that could be worth $10 billion over 10 years. But over the two-year bidding and evaluation process, Microsoft gained ground, and in October, the Department of Defense awarded the contract to Microsoft in a surprise upset.
Amazon is now protesting that Microsoft victory, arguing that its cloud technology is so superior to the rest of the market that the real reason the US chose Microsoft was because President Donald Trump dislikes Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. And, Amazon says, that should be grounds to vacate the award.
However, the way Amazon has pursued this claim has already apparently ruffled a few feathers.
On Tuesday, the US and Microsoft filed a formal public complaint about the types of things Amazon chose to conceal in a redacted document it filed. They asked the court to toss out Amazon’s redacted document and use a version of the complaint that they approve of, with redactions that they choose.
Ironically enough, the US and Microsoft filed their version of the redacted document under seal, meaning it isn’t available for public view at all. However, what they did share publicly gave some insight into the types of things Amazon may have hidden under the blackout ink.
Hidden behind redaction
The US and Microsoft are basically saying in this complaint that Amazon hid things like the criticisms that the DOD made about Amazon’s technology as it evaluated its proposal. They wrote (emphasis added):
In its filing, AWS redacted a significant quantity of information that does not qualify for redaction under this standard. In particular, the Court has held that ‘qualitative assessments of offerors’ proposals, such as the adjectival rating assigned to an offeror’s past performance or an offeror’s ordinal ranking under one or another evaluation factor … ha[ve] no bearing on the competitive process’ and are not subject to redaction. The purpose of redaction … is to safeguard the competitive process, not to withhold information that a party frowns on making public.
For instance, Amazon redacted information on the Department of Defense’s assessment of its cloud technology while sharing Microsoft’s scores. That part looked like this:
Weirdly enough, by blacking out the Amazon info, the public can see that Microsoft generally scored well, with ratings that ranged from “good” to “outstanding,” apart from a “moderate” risk rating on at least one metric.
And then Amazon shared some golden nuggets about Microsoft’s bid, including some key information on the price Microsoft submitted — while hiding Amazon’s price, another thing that the US and Microsoft mentioned in their complaint.
There’s no way of telling if Amazon’s bid price came in higher or lower than Microsoft’s, though there may be reason to think it could have been higher. That’s because Amazon alleged in its lawsuit that the DOD changed some of its requirements in such a way that forced it to raise prices while helping Microsoft keep its prices lower.
Given the redactions in the document, we don’t know if Microsoft’s bid really did come in lower, but if it did, that could be one reason why it won the contract.
The court has already ruled that it’s not going to make Amazon release a different version of its redacted document based on this complaint. It told the US and Microsoft that if they wanted a more revealing version of Amazon’s complaint to be made public, they would have to file a formal motion.
Protests over multibillion-dollar federal-technology contracts by the vendors that do not win them are common, and at least one Wall Street analyst, the Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives, believes Amazon’s protest on this one will be futile.
Microsoft says it won on its merits
Microsoft declined further comment on its issues with Amazon’s redacted filings. The attorneys representing the US did not respond to a request for comment, and Amazon was not immediately available for comment.
However, Microsoft disputed Amazon’s claims that AWS is a technically superior cloud.
“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,” a Microsoft representative told Business Insider’s Ashley Stewart in a statement. “We’ve worked hard to continually innovate over the past two years to create better, differentiated offerings for our customer.”
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