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Federal judge orders Microsoft to stop work on Pentagon JEDI cloud-computing project

Amazon has challenged Defence Department's decision to award JEDI contract to Microsoft

Amazon has challenged Defence Department’s decision to award JEDI contract to Microsoft

A federal judge has ordered the Pentagon to stop Microsoft from starting work on the $10bn JEDI cloud-computing contract until Amazon’s legal challenge has been resolved.

The order was issued by Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith in the US Court of Federal Claims on, and the contents of the opinion currently remain under seal.

Microsoft expressed its disappointment over the decision, saying it will further delay the work on the project.

“While we are disappointed with the additional delay we believe that we will ultimately be able to move forward with the work to make sure those who serve our country can access the new technology they urgently require,” Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s vice president of communications, said in a statement, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“We have confidence in 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,” he added.

Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the Department of Defense (DoD) was confident about its decision to award the contract to Microsoft.

Earlier in November, Amazon filed a lawsuit in the US Court of Federal Claims contesting the DoD’s decision to award the contract to Microsoft.

Amazon was long seen as the favourite to win the contract until DoD announced in October that it was awarding the JEDI project to Microsoft.

Amazon protested the decision, saying it was unfairly treated in the bidding process. The company also claimed that President Donald Trump had influenced the bidding process because of his dispute with Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon and The Washington Post.

The newspaper has aggressively covered the Trump administration in past years, and President Trump refers to it as the “Amazon Washington Post”.

In August, President Trump had also said that his administration was reviewing Amazon’s bid for the contract following complaints that JEDI contract specifications favoured Amazon.

A speechwriter for former Defence Secretary Jim Mattis also claimed in a recent book that Donald Trump had instructed Mattis to “screw Amazon” out of the contract. Mattis, however, left the administration in January 2019 and was therefore not involved in the award of the contract, which was made in October 2019. 

Earlier this week, Amazon requested the court to give permission to gather testimony from Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and former Defense Secretary James Mattis.

A decision on that request is expected within weeks.