Under contract management, Microsoft will be responsible for storing vast amounts of sensitive military data and providing US military access to artificial intelligence technology.
Stephen Brasher / Getty Images
Steven Brasher / Getty Images
Under the management of the contract, Microsoft will be responsible for storing vast amounts of sensitive military data and providing US military access to artificial intelligence technology.
Stephen Brashear / Getty Images
The Pentagon awarded Microsoft a 10-year, 10-year contract over Amazon on Friday, ending a hard-fought battle for which the tech giant will largely manage cloud-based cloud services.
The large-scale contract – known as the Joint Venture Infrastructure or JEDI, a cloud contract – was expected to be awarded to Amazon Web Services or AWS, which also manages the cloud computing services for the Central Intelligence Agency.
"We are surprised by this conclusion. AWS is the clear leader in cloud computing and a detailed evaluation, pure of comparative proposals, obviously leads to a different conclusion," an AWS spokesman told NPR in a statement.
Amazon's potential contract order was met with heavy criticism from other rivals, Republicans in Congress, and ultimately from President Trump, who has long been engaged in a major unilateral feud with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
The Pentagon's break in the tender process has raised concerns that the president intervenes in the award of the defense contract, which would be a violation of federal acquisition laws, according to The Washington Post .
Trump has an openly contentious relationship with Amazon, and in particular the Washington Post, which owns Bezos and is a frequent target of it axis of the president.
In a new book, Drawing the Line: Inside the Trump Pentagon with Secretary Matisse, Guy Snodgrass, a Navy retired commander who worked working closely with then-Secretary of Defense Jim Matisse, Trump says he called and directed Matisse to "screw the Amazon," excluding him from bidding for a JEDI contract. According to Snodgrass, Matisse told him and other people, "We will not do this. It will be through the book, both legally and ethically."
In a statement detailing the award, the Department of Defense said:  "The acquisition process was conducted in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. The process ended with review by the GAO and the Court of Federal Claims. Initially, the competition involved four different bidders. All applicants were treated fairly and evaluated according to the requirements of the evaluation criteria specified. Prior to the award, the department consulted the DOD Inspector General, who informed the decision to proceed. " NPR reached out to Microsoft, but a spokesman has not yet commented on the award.
In managing the JEDI Treaty, Microsoft will be responsible for storing vast amounts of sensitive military data and providing US military access to artificial intelligence technology.
"We need to improve the speed and efficiency with which we develop and utilize modernized technical capabilities for our women and men in uniform," Chief Defense Officer Dana Deacie said in a statement. "This award is an important step in the implementation of the Digital Modernization Strategy."