President Trump on Thursday said he will look into the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, as lawmakers and other companies express concerns about the bidding process.
“I’m getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon, they’re saying it wasn’t competitively bid,” Trump told reporters. “We’re looking at it very seriously, it’s a very big contract, one of the biggest ever given.”
Trump said the complaints were coming from other “great companies,” like Microsoft, Oracle and IBM.
He noted there are very few other items on which he had received so many complaints.
Trump’s comments come after Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio sent a letter to National Security Adviser John Bolton last week, citing concerns that the procurement race has been uncompetitive.
“I fully understand and support the significant need for DoD to modernize its technology systems, and believe moving to the cloud is critical to that effort,” Rubio’s letter read. “This type of fiscal and time commitment should demand a procurement steeped in competition and conducted without bias toward any one vendor.”
Rubio alleged that the Defense Department used “arbitrary criteria and standards for bidders,” which led to only four companies – Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle – ultimately bidding for the multibillion-dollar job.
Rubio is said to have shared his concerns with Trump, after which the president called the senator to discuss it.
The Defense Department intended to announce a winner next month – and has already begun identifying programs that could be transitioned to the JEDI infrastructure. Amazon and Microsoft are the only contenders remaining.
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley made a similar request, citing potential conflicts of interest. There have been concerns raised about alleged connections between Amazon employees and Defense Department officials – and a purported unfair bias toward the e-commerce giant. Oracle has filed complaints citing these claims.
Amazon was viewed as an early frontrunner due to its other standing cloud deals, including a $600 million cloud contract with the CIA. That indicates the company already has the approval to handle sensitive government data.
Last year, search giant Google pulled its bid for the JEDI contract, amid concerns the job does not align with the company’s artificial intelligence principles. Google has dealt with employee protests and concerns over producing technology for the U.S. military.