What you need to know
- The Pentagon's Office of the Inspector General released a report on the selection process of the JEDI cloud contract.
- The report states that no evidence that was found suggests the White House intervened with the selection process.
- The report notes that due to assertions of "presidential communications privilege" the office "could not review this matter fully."
The Pentagon's Office of the Inspector General released a 313-page report today on the selection process of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract (via CNBC). The report concludes that based on the evidence discovered that the Department of Defense (DoD) personnel who awarded the JEDI cloud contract to Microsoft "were not pressured about their decision on the award of the contract by any DoD leaders more senior to them, who may have communicated with the White House."
The report from today is the latest in a series of legal battles surrounding the cloud contract. Amazon claims that President Trump's bias against Jeff Bezos affected the decision by the DoD to go with Microsoft over Amazon.
The JEDI cloud contract could be worth up to $10 billion over a ten-year period. The contract provides cloud services, artificial intelligence processing, machine learning, and other technologies powered by the cloud.
The report specifies that the review did not look at price evaluations or technical evaluations of the proposals from Microsoft and Amazon. Instead, it focuses on the source selection process and if it was "in compliance with applicable statutes, policies, and the evaluation process described in the Request for Proposals." The review also aimed to determine if outside pressure influenced the decision-making process
The review involved examining 31.2GB of e-mails and 1.05GB of relevant documents. The review also included interviewing program managers, attorneys, ethics officials, and other DoD officials. The investigation did, however, run into barriers regarding certain information. The report states:
We sought to review whether there was any White House influence on the JEDI cloud procurement. We could not review this matter fully because of the assertion of a "presidential communications privilege," which resulted in several DoD witnesses being instructed by DoD OGC not to answer our questions about potential communications between White House and DoD officials about JEDI. Therefore, we could not definitively determine the full extent or nature of interactions that administration officials had, or may have had, with senior DoD officials regarding the JEDI Cloud procurement. As a result, we could not be certain whether there were any White House communications with some DoD officials which may have affected the JEDI procurement.
While the report states that they could "not review this matter fully," it concludes that based on evidence, there was no outside pressure to make a specific decision. The report states:
However, we believe the evidence we received showed that the DoD personnel who evaluated proposals and made the source-selection awarding Microsoft the JEDI Cloud contract were not pressured about their decision on the award of the contract by any DoD leaders more senior to them, who may have communicated with the White House.
In addition to determining that no outside pressure affected the selection process, the Pentagon's Office of the Inspector General also decided that the decision to award the contract to a single company is "reasonable."
In a statement following the Inspector General's report, Microsoft corporate vice president of communications, Frank Shaw, told CNBC: "The Inspector General's report makes clear the DoD established a proper procurement process. It's now apparent that Amazon bid too high a price and is seeking a do-over so it can bid again. As the IG's report indicates, Amazon has proprietary information about Microsoft's bid that it should never have had. At this stage, Amazon is both delaying critical work for the nation's military and trying to undo the mistake it made when it bid too high a price."
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