Senate

Rubio asks White House to delay $10B Pentagon contract over Amazon concerns  

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) sent a letter to President Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, on Thursday asking the White House to delay awarding a $10 billion Pentagon cloud computing contract over concerns the procurement process has been unfair and potentially biased toward Amazon.

In the letter obtained by The Hill, Rubio said that the criteria for the lucrative Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract has suffered from a “lack of competition” and that moving ahead at this point could “result in wasted taxpayer dollars and fail to provide our warfighters with the best technology solutions.”

{mosads}Rubio said the contract should be held until the Defense Department’s inspector general can review “potential conflicts of interest related to the JEDI procurement,” and he raised questions about whether the entire process was rigged through “arbitrary criteria” meant to whittle the finalists for the contract down to Amazon and Microsoft.

“I respectfully request that you direct the delay of an award until all efforts are concluded in addition to evaluating all bids in a fair and open process in order to provide the competition necessary to obtain the best cost and best technology for its cloud computing needs,” Rubio wrote.

Rubio is the latest Republican to pressure the White House to abandon its negotiations for the contract and to begin the process from the start.

In a letter to the White House last month, four conservative groups warned that the Pentagon contract was set up in a way that “predetermines” that Amazon would be the winner.

The Defense Department has announced that Amazon and Microsoft are the two finalists for the contract.

Oracle has sued the Pentagon, alleging that Defense employees rigged the process in favor of Amazon. Oracle has accused Amazon of offering jobs and other benefits to two Defense officials.

“Even though 200 companies were initially interested, DoD instituted such a restrictive criteria that only four companies bid on JEDI,” Rubio wrote. “DoD then further used the arbitrary criteria to eliminate two of the bidders, IBM and Oracle, leaving only Amazon and Microsoft. And in the end, DoD plans to award this massive contract to a single vendor, even though multiple vendors would ensure continuing price competition and access to the latest innovations.”

Republican lawmakers have asked the Pentagon’s inspector general to investigate the bidding process, saying that it appeared to be “tailored to one specific contractor.”

Reps. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) have expressed concerns that lobbyists for Amazon used their connections at the Pentagon to influence the bidding process. 

Amazon has not responded to a request for comment.

Tags Amazon Defense Department Donald Trump John Bolton Marco Rubio Oracle Steve Womack Tom Cole

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