Amazon v. Donald J. Trump: A Massive Defense Contract Award Tainted by the Appearance of Impropriety
Rodney Sweetland, Vice President and General Counsel, Camris International Inc., USA
An unconventional U.S. president personally attacking the CEO of Amazon, one of the country’s largest and most impactful companies, is salacious news. Important public policy considerations are implicated when those attacks extend to that company’s efforts at obtaining a major Defense Department contract. Add tech titans IBM, Google, Microsoft and Oracle to the list of actors in the dispute and the narrative completes its transformation from a paradigmatic government contracts award protest to a Homeric epic.
This article will examine the litigation by Amazon Web Services (“Amazon”) over the deca-billion dollar U.S. Department of Defense (“DOD”) cloud computing contract award to Microsoft. That contract is for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (“JEDI”) project. The JEDI contract award has been characterized by unprecedented political involvement in what was, heretofore, a well-settled area of law. The precedents set by this case, thus, may affect future bidders. As 41 of the largest 100 defense contractors are based in the U.S. (27 are European), the U.S. spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined and accounts for 36% of arms exports, legal developments in U.S. defense contracting have worldwide implications.
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