Secretary of Defense to assess $ 10 billion cloud computing deal

The $ 10 billion ten-year contract, known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), has come under recent scrutiny from President Donald Trump, who has expressed concern about the justice of what has been a contentious bidding process among a handful big technology companies.

Amazon has been seen as the front runner to win the contract. Microsoft is the second finalist. The contract could be awarded as early as 23 August.

The Pentagon announcement comes less than a week after CNN reported exclusively that Trump had seen and been briefed on a document alleging a major conspiracy to award the Amazon contract. The document on one side was produced by a manager at Oracle, who had also competed for the contract. It is unclear how the document came to the White House.

The document contains a flow chart titled "A Conspiracy to Create a Ten Year DoD Cloud Monopoly", and provides a visual representation of a narrative that Oracle has been pushing for months ̵[ads1]1; as a web of individuals inside and outside the Defense Department smeared the wheels for Amazon to win the contract.

The JEDI contract has been the subject of intense lobbying by Oracle, which has been trying to get Amazon's bid for months. Oracle's own bid did not come to an end. The company also launched an unsuccessful legal challenge to Amazon's bid.

Although it is unclear how Oracle's document made it to the White House, it appears to have recorded the president's well-known animosity toward the online retailer and its founder Jeff Bezos.

Thursday's announcement raises questions about whether there is political influence on a bidding process that the Pentagon has so far insisted has followed all the proper protocols.

Many of the implied and explicit allegations involving Amazon have been addressed by an internal Pentagon investigation or in Oracle's lawsuit in federal court. Neither has decided that they are problematic.

In recent weeks, the President has indicated that he is concerned about the JEDI contract and that the administration will go through the matter. However, the decision to revise the contract ultimately lies with Esper, the recently confirmed defense secretary.

Asked by a reporter about the contract during a July 18 appearance in the Oval Office with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Trump said he had received "huge complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon," including from Microsoft, Oracle and IBM.

"Big companies are complaining about it," Trump said. "So we're going to look at it. We want to look at it very strongly."
22. July, Trump retweeted a Fox News segment criticizing the JEDI contract as "Bezos Bailout." It is not clear if the president had already seen the Oracle document by that time.

Days after Trump's public statements, Esper also mentioned reconsideration of the contract. "I've heard from everyone about JEDI Cloud, that's one of the things I want to take a hard look at," Esper told reporters at the Pentagon July 24.

Recently, some Republicans on Capitol Hill have also been lobbying with the Pentagon and the White House to revise the contract and push forward similar questions raised by Oracle about the contract's fairness.

Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Marco Rubio of Florida have written separate letters to the Pentagon raising concerns about moving forward with the contract. Trump even discussed JEDI with Johnson on a flight from Air Force One to Wisconsin in July, according to the senator's office.

Trump also called Rubio last month to share his concerns about the contract, according to a spokesman for Rubio. Trump gave the indication that he may be involved in preventing the award of the contract if necessary.

In a statement Thursday, Rubio said he was "happy" that Esper is evaluating the contract. A spokeswoman for Rubio told CNN that the Florida senator's staff worked with the defense secretary's office prior to the announcement.

23. In July, dozens of lawmakers in the Republican House sent Trump a letter asking him to postpone the award of the JEDI contract. The letter states that the award of the contract will be "premature" because the Pentagon & # 39; s Office of Inspector General "is still investigating potential conflicts of interest by DoD employees when awarding the JEDI contract."

Since October 2018, rep. Steve Womack, a Republican from Arkansas, has written a letter to the president and the Department of Defense's Office of Inspector General explaining his concerns about the department's procurement strategy for a price. In May, he addressed the criticism directly to then-Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan in a hearing.

Womack told CNN last week that he had questions about conflicts of interest involving Amazon and the Pentagon.

The many shortcomings of the JEDI procurement process, I fully support Secretary Esper's decision to review the program, "Womack said in a statement Thursday.

But other Republican members have urged the administration to award the contract soon. A letter to Trump , signed by four GOP members of the House Armed Services Committee July 18, including ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry, stated that "further delays will only damage our security and increase the cost of the contract."

[19659006] CNN's Zachary Cohen and Kylie Atwood contribute to this report.

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