AWS CEO says ‘significant political interference’ impacted JEDI contract

In October 2019, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that it has awarded the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract to Microsoft, surprising the then front-runner, Amazon Web Services (AWS). Weeks later, Amazon confirmed that it had filed a lawsuit challenging the outcome of the hotly contested, high-profile contract. 

The contract garnered public attention when US President Donald Trump began expressing opposition to awarding the contract to Jeff Bezos’ Amazon Web Services (AWS).

At an Oval Office Q&A with the press earlier this year, Trump is quoted as saying “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’s been such complaining. Not only complaining from the media — or at least asking questions about it from the media — but complaining from different companies like Microsoft and Oracle and IBM. Great companies are complaining about it. So we’re going to take a look at it. We’ll take a very strong look at it.”

Political interference was cited as the main reason for the lawsuit, a statement that was confirmed by AWS CEO Andy Jassy at a press Q&A at the company’s annual re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. 

When questioned about the lawsuit and whether Amazon had any proof of political interference, Jassy said: “Well we’re in the middle of active litigation so there’s a limited amount of things that I can say about it, but what I would say is that I think it’s very obvious that we feel very strongly that it was not adjudicated fairly. I think if you do a truly objective and detailed apples-to-apples comparison of the platforms you don’t end up in the spot where that decision was made. Most of our customers tell us that we’re a couple of years ahead of them (Microsoft) in regards to functionality and maturity.

I think that you end up with a situation where there was significant political interference when you have a sitting president who is willing to share openly his disdain for a company and the leader of that company and it makes it really difficult for government agencies including the DoD to make objective decisions without fear of reprisal. I think it’s really risky for the country and for democracy for decisions not to be made that are this important, we’re talking about the national security of our country, and modernising their technology platform, the foundation on which all those applications are going to be used to protect our country, we have to make sure that those decisions are made truly objectively.”

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