The US Department of Defense said today that it was canceling Microsoft’s award of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, which was valued at $10 billion over five years. It will now undergo a new procurement process.
“With the shifting technology environment, it has become clear that the JEDI cloud contract, which has long been delayed, no longer meets the requirements to fill the DoD’s capability gaps,” a Defense Department statement explains. “The project, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure and intended as a sole-source contract, had been fiercely disputed from the start.”
This has been a long and rocky road.
In a stunning upset, Microsoft won the JEDI contract in April 2020, beating out heavily-favored Amazon, which complained incessantly that the award was politically motivated, often with amusing results. But the firm kept pushing, even after the DoD announced in September 2020 that it would move forward with Microsoft as the contract winner. By early 2021, it was clear that a new presidential administration might reverse course instead of facing years of litigation by Amazon, and the DoD indicated in May that it was reevaluating the contract.
According to Microsoft, this process needs reform, and “one company”—Amazon—should not be allowed to “delay, for years, critical technology upgrades for those who defend our nation.”
“It’s clear the DoD trusts Microsoft and our technology, and we’re confident that we’ll continue to be successful as the DoD selects partners for new work,” Microsoft’s Toni Townes-Whitley writes. “Their decision today doesn’t change the fact that not once, but twice, after careful review by professional procurement staff, the DoD decided that Microsoft and our technology best met their needs.”
But it does change the fact that Microsoft won the lucrative and high-profile JEDI contract. And while it’s reasonable to believe that the software giant might play some role in a future award, it’s perhaps more obvious that a contract this important needs multiple players.