Siding With Amazon, Judge Halts Work on Microsoft’s JEDI Contract

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A federal judge in Washington ordered Microsoft on Thursday to halt all work on a $10 billion cloud-computing contract for the Pentagon, in a victory for Amazon, which had challenged the awarding of the contract.

In a sealed opinion, the judge ordered work to stop on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project, known as JEDI, until Amazon’s legal challenge was resolved. The 10-year contract was one of the largest tech contracts from the Pentagon.

The decision adds to the acrimony surrounding the contract, which had set off a showdown among Amazon, Microsoft and other technology companies for the right to transform the military’s cloud-computing systems. Amazon, which is considered the largest provider of such technology, had been considered a front-runner to win the contract. But in October, the Department of Defense awarded the deal to Microsoft.

Amazon protested and said the awarding of the deal had been unfair. The internet giant claimed that President Trump had interfered in the bidding process for the contract because of his feud with Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive and owner of The Washington Post. The Post has aggressively covered the Trump administration.

Late last year, Amazon filed a challenge to the deal in federal court. It argued that its cloud-computing services were superior to Microsoft’s and that it was better situated to fulfill the technical requirements of the contract.

“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. “We believe the facts will show they ran a detailed, thorough and fair process in determining the needs of the warfighter were best met by Microsoft.”

Amazon and the Defense Department did not immediately return a request for comment.

The judge in the case, Patricia E. Campbell-Smith, also required that Amazon pay a $42 million deposit that will be held by the court in case it later determines that the injunction was wrongfully issued and that Microsoft is owed damages.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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