Republican lawmakers ask Trump not to delay Pentagon cloud-computing contract

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A group of Republicans on Thursday urged President Trump to avoid delaying the Department of Defense’s (DOD) $10 billion cloud-computing contract after the president threatened to intervene, according to a letter obtained by The Hill.

The group of four House Armed Services Committee lawmakers, including ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry (Texas), argued it is a national security imperative to move forward with the contract, which is expected to be awarded later this summer.

{mosads}”We believe that it is essential for our national security to move forward as quickly as possible with the award and implementation of this contract,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter to Trump on Thursday. “Moving to the cloud will help DOD operate faster, more efficiently, and compete with adversaries, like China.” 

The letter comes after Trump earlier in the day said he would ask the DOD to look “very closely” at the contract, which is expected to be awarded to Amazon.

“I’m getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “They’re saying it wasn’t competitively bid.” He added that he would ask his administration to “look very closely to see what’s going on.”

The battle over the Pentagon’s enormous cloud-computing contract — known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) or the “war cloud” — has raged for more than a year, as other top cloud-computing companies argued the deal was built specifically with Amazon in mind. Oracle, the most outspoken critic, took the fight to the courts but lost last week.

Oracle claimed the procurement process was set up to favor Amazon, alleging potential conflicts of interest between Department of Defense employees and Amazon Web Services. A federal judge shot down Oracle’s claims, handing a win to the Pentagon in a decision that argued Oracle “cannot demonstrate prejudice” in the procurement process.

Amazon has argued that it is merely the best-equipped to meet the standards necessary to store the DOD’s top-secret and classified data.

The Republican lawmakers in the Thursday letter pointed out courts have sided with the DOD. The signatories included Republican Reps. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Michael Turner (Ohio) and Rob Wittman (Va).

Our committee has conducted oversight of this contract from the beginning,” they wrote. “While it is understandable that some of the companies competing for the contract are disappointed at not being selected as one of the finalists, further unnecessary delays will only damage our security and increase the costs of the contract.”

Amazon and Microsoft are the final contenders for the “war cloud” deal, but Amazon is likely the company best-equipped to meet the top-level security requirements included in the contract.

Some Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), in recent weeks sent letters to Trump officials asking the White House to delay the contract over concerns the procurement process has been unfair and biased in favor of Amazon.

Several government investigations have cleared the DOD of nefarious activity.

The White House did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Tags Donald Trump Elise Stefanik Mac Thornberry Marco Rubio Rob Wittman
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