Four Republican members of the US Congress on Thursday told President Trump that it’s important for the Pentagon’s $10 billion JEDI cloud project to move forward, saying “unnecessary delays” could harm US security.
The letter from the Republican Congress members was sent after Trump said he was looking into complaints against the contract process for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, project, a platform that will store and manage sensitive military and defense data.
Amazon and Microsoft are the finalists for the contract, which is set to be awarded in late August. But Trump said he wanted more information on the process saying, “we’re getting tremendous complaints from other companies.” Indeed, IBM and Oracle both lodged formal protests against the JEDI bid.
But, in their letter, the Republican Congressional members said: “While it is understandable that some of the companies competing for the contract are disappointed at not being selected as one of the finalists, further unnecessary delays will only damage our security and increase the costs of the contract.”
The letter was signed by Marc Thornberry of Texas, Elise Stefanik of New York, Rob Whittman of Virginia, and Mike Turner of Ohio, who also said, “moving to the cloud will help the DoD [Department of Defense] operate faster, more efficiently, and compete with adversaries like China.”
Analysts also said a delay in the contract award could hurt the chances of Amazon and Microsoft. Oracle had launched a legal challenge to the contract process, claiming it was riddled with improprieties and that the Pentagon had set unfair criteria. But the protest was shot down by a federal judge last week.
But analysts say the Oracle campaign may have helped highlight criticisms of the contract. Last week, Republican Senator Marco Rubio wrote National Security Adviser John Bolton asking the contract award to be delayed. “DoD has used arbitrary criteria and standards for bidders,” he wrote. Rubio was supported by Oracle founder Larry Ellison when he ran for president in 2016.
Amazon has been widely-considered the frontrunner in the contract process. Analysts have speculated that Trump’s bitter feud with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos may have been a key factor for his decision to get involved in the JEDI process.
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