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Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Amazon is once again challenging the Department of Defense’s decision to award a $10 billion cloud contract to Microsoft. Amazon filed a protest of the award directly with the DoD after a federal judge temporarily paused litigation on a lawsuit filed last year.

The protest Amazon submitted to the DoD this week is confidential, even to Microsoft, but that didn’t stop the software giant from slamming its rival. Microsoft communications chief Frank Shaw published a blog post Thursday accusing Amazon of attempting to “find a way to avoid the consequences of its own bad business decisions.”

Microsoft claims Amazon Web Services (the company’s cloud arm) lost the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract by bidding too high on the coveted project at the outset.

“This latest filing – filed with the DoD this time – is another example of Amazon trying to bog down JEDI in complaints, litigation and other delays designed to force a do-over to rescue its failed bid,” Shaw wrote.

An Amazon spokesperson called Microsoft’s blog post “posture” in a statement.?“Anybody who’s studied the cloud computing space will tell you that AWS has a much more functional, capable, cost-effective, and operationally strong offering,” the spokesperson said.

Amazon did not provide details on the new protest but the legal challenge brought last year claims that President Donald Trump’s personal animus toward the company improperly influenced the outcome of the contest. More recently, Amazon has claimed Microsoft’s bid was not compliant with the requirements DoD outlined at the beginning of the procurement process.

The judge presiding over the case, Patricia Campbell-Smith, temporarily barred Microsoft and the DoD from moving forward on the project while the matter is hammered out. She said there may have been an error in the evaluations at the time and DoD asked for the opportunity to review it. Campbell-Smith granted that request last month to Amazon’s consternation. The litigation is now paused for 120 days while DoD reviews one aspect of Microsoft’s bid.

“AWS is committed to ensuring it receives a fair and objective review on an award decision that the Court found to be flawed,” the Amazon spokesperson said of the challenge filed with DoD this week. “AWS repeatedly sought clarity from the DoD around ambiguous aspects of the amended solicitation and the DoD refused to answer our questions. We simply want to ensure a common understanding of the DoD’s requirements and eliminate ambiguity that could impact a fair evaluation.”

Update: Amazon responded to Microsoft with its own blog post published Friday, which lays out the reasons for the appeal to DoD. Amazon VP of worldwide communications, Drew Herdener, said the company’s repeated requests for clarity on a technical evaluation factor from DoD over the past few weeks have gone unanswered.

“It left us no option but to appeal to the agency to clarify it,” he said in the blog post.

Amazon claims that the flaws Campbell-Smith found in the evaluation of Microsoft’s bid reflect its rival’s weak position.

“She determined that Microsoft’s bid was likely defective and therefore should have been ineligible, and said that as a result, the award to Microsoft was unlikely to stand up in court,” Herdener wrote. “Without this second chance, it is Microsoft that would be out of the running for failing to submit a compliant bid the first time around.”

Amazon also called out Microsoft’s “spotty operational performance during the COVID-19 crisis.” Microsoft has dealt with some capacity constraints due to increased cloud computing usage amid the pandemic.

“Microsoft is doing an awful lot of posturing,” Herdener wrote. “We understand why. Nobody knowledgeable and objective believes they have the better offering. And, this has been further underscored by their spotty operational performance during the COVID-19 crisis (and in 2020 YTD).”

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