Court halts Pen­tagon-Mi­crosoft cloud work

Baltimore Sun - - ENTERTAINM­ENT - By Joseph Pisani and Rachel Ler­man

NEW YORK — A fed­eral court has or­dered the Pen­tagon to tem­po­rar­ily halt work with Mi­crosoft on a $10 bil­lion mil­i­tary cloud con­tract that Ama­zon was ini­tially fa­vored to win. Ama­zon sub­se­quently sued, al­leg­ing that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s bias against the com­pany hurt its chances to win the project.

Ama­zon re­quested the court in­junc­tion last month. Both the doc­u­ments re­quest­ing the block and the judge’s de­ci­sion to is­sue the tem­po­rary in­junc­tion are sealed by the court. Ama­zon is re­quired to set up a se­cu­rity fund of $42 mil­lion that will be used to pay da­m­ages if the court later finds the in­junc­tion was im­proper.

“While we are dis­ap­pointed with the ad­di­tional de­lay we be­lieve that we will ul­ti­mately be able to move for­ward with the work to make sure those who serve our coun­try can ac­cess the new tech­nol­ogy they ur­gently re­quire,” said Frank Shaw, Mi­crosoft’s vice pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

The Pen­tagon and Ama­zon did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for comment.

Charles Tiefer, a gov­ern­ment con­tract­ing law pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Bal­ti­more, called the order to stop work on the project “strik­ing,” adding that judges typ­i­cally halt work on con­tracts when they see “some merit” in the case.

Ama­zon was con­sid­ered an early fron­trun­ner for the con­tract.

The project, known as Joint En­ter­prise De­fense In­fra­struc­ture, or JEDI, will store and process vast amounts of clas­si­fied data, al­low­ing the U.S. mil­i­tary to im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tions with sol­diers on the bat­tle­field and use ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to speed up its war planning and fight­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

In July, Trump pub­licly stated that other com­pa­nies told him the con­tract “wasn’t com­pet­i­tively bid,” and he said the ad­min­is­tra­tion would “take a very long look” at it.

The com­pany is also look­ing to ques­tion the for­mer and cur­rent sec­re­taries of de­fense and other of­fi­cials.

The New York Times con­trib­uted.

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