Pentagon to examine possible conflict with Amazon employee in $10B contract

Pentagon to examine possible conflict with Amazon employee in $10B contract
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The Pentagon is examining whether Amazon Web Services (AWS) created a conflict of interest by hiring a former Defense Department employee who said he led the agency's effort to move its computing systems onto the cloud, The Washington Post reported.

A new lawsuit filed by Oracle centers on Deap Ubhi, who worked at AWS and then the Defense Department before returning to Amazon. His career path is the focus of the investigation into the competition for a $10 billion contract to build and maintain the majority of the Pentagon's cloud computing system, according to court records cited by the Post.

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AWS competitor Oracle is arguing that bidding for the program, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), favored AWS.

Amazon has denied the claims, according to the Post.

The Pentagon previously concluded that Ubhi “did not negatively impact the integrity of the JEDI procurement,” according to the court filing.

However, a Pentagon contracting official in the filing said, “I am currently considering whether AWS’s employment of Mr. Ubhi (and potentially others)” has created a conflict of interest.

The contract is expected to be awarded in the spring.

Ubhi reportedly recused himself from the JEDI program in October 2017.

In the filing, the Pentagon and AWS pushed back against Oracle's claim, calling it a “broad fishing expedition.”

“Oracle attempts to use Mr. Ubhi’s voluntary recusal as evidence of supposed bias, when in reality it demonstrates precisely the opposite: Mr. Ubhi acted specifically to avoid any potential conflict by voluntarily recusing himself from any JEDI activities before he eventually returned to AWS,” Amazon’s attorneys wrote in a filing, according to the Post.

An AWS spokesperson declined to comment to The Hill on the filings.

— Updated 12:22 p.m.