Conservatives ask White House to abandon Amazon talks over Pentagon contract

Conservatives ask White House to abandon Amazon talks over Pentagon contract
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A coalition of five conservative groups sent a letter to the White House on Friday asking the Trump administration to abandon negotiations with Amazon over a lucrative $10 billion Pentagon cloud computing contract.

In a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) acting Director Russell Vought, the conservatives argued that the criteria for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing contract had “severely restricted the number of potential providers."

The letter was signed by the presidents of the American Conservative Union, the Institute for Liberty, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, the organization Limited Government and Citizens Against Government Waste.

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The groups argued that the bidding process for the Pentagon contract was set up in a way that "predetermines" that the contract goes to a company with Level 6 cloud security requirements to host secret and top-secret data.

Critics of the procurement process maintain that such requirements are unnecessary and that Amazon is likely the only vendor that can fulfill them.

In the letter, the conservative groups said they’re also concerned about “the security impact of consolidating the services requested in the proposal to one unified platform, rather than using multiple cloud services.”

“The sole source single award procurement process for the JEDI cloud services project should be abandoned and revised to allow for multiple vendors,” the groups said in the letter. “We also urge the Office of Management and Budget to take steps to ensure that all future cloud services procurements by government agencies follow industry best practices by using multiple awards as the preferred solution for cloud services.”

The Defense Department has announced that Amazon and Microsoft are the two finalists for the contract, but critics have said that the process has been biased to ensure that Amazon is the sole winner.

Oracle has sued the Pentagon, alleging that Defense employees essentially rigged the process for Amazon. In an amended complaint that was unsealed this month, Oracle accused Amazon of offering jobs and other benefits to two Defense officials in exchange for making it easier for the company to win the contract.

A spokesperson for Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

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.”

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Harper Neidig contributed

--Updated at 3:52 p.m.