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Pentagon reaffirms decision to award multi-billion JEDI contract to Microsoft

Pentagon reaffirms decision to award multi-billion JEDI contract to Microsoft
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The Pentagon on Friday reaffirmed its decision earlier this year to award a $10 billion cloud-computing contract to Microsoft over Amazon.

The Defense Department said in a statement that it had completed a review of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure competition and determined that Microsoft's proposal represents "the best value to the Government."

The release added that contract performance will not begin immediately because of a federal court injunction issued in February that is still to be cleared up, but that the Pentagon is “eager to begin delivering this capability to our men and women in uniform.”

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The Defense Department in October 2019 awarded the lucrative military contract to Microsoft, though Amazon the very next month filed a lawsuit seeking to halt or overhaul the deal, claiming the process was improperly influenced by “unmistakable bias” from the Trump administration.

President Trump has publicly and privately indicated that he did not want the contract to go to Amazon, which is owned by Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosElon Musk passes Bill Gates to become world's second-richest person in Bloomberg rankings How space exploration will help to address climate change Bezos makes first donations from billion Earth Fund MORE, a frequent target of the president's criticism.

Until Microsoft was declared the winner, Amazon had been considered the front-runner for the deal. 

Amazon's protest prompted a Pentagon's watchdog investigation into the matter. The resulting report, released in April, said that the Defense Department was not able to "definitively determine" whether the White House influenced the department's decision to award the contract to Microsoft over Amazon.

In a twist, however, the department's inspector general said it was unable to rule on the issue because the Pentagon's general counsel instructed witnesses not to answer questions about conversations between the White House and Pentagon because of “the assertion of a ‘presidential communications privilege.’"

The latest Pentagon determination comes after two other companies, IBM and Oracle, argued that there was a conflict of interest because a former Amazon employee helped write the requirements for the initial call for contract proposals. The Court of Appeals on Thursday denied Oracle's argument.