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Amazon offered jobs to Pentagon employees to get cloud contract: Lawsuit

Oracle's latest court action comes weeks after the Pentagon announced it had eliminated Oracle and International Business Machines Corp. from the bidding because they didn't meet the minimum criteria

Naomi Nix | Bloomberg 

The Pentagon, which announced the Jedi competition in March of last year, doesn’t expect to award the contract before July 19

At least two employees were offered jobs at com Inc. while working on the Defense Department’s $10 billion cloud contract, a lawsuit filed by Corp. alleges.

The amended complaint, made public on Tuesday, claims Deap Ubhi, a former employee at a high-level Defense Department technology unit, helped design the cloud contract in a way that was favorable to even after receiving “significant” job and bonus offers from the e-commerce giant.

Oracle’s latest court action comes weeks after the announced it had eliminated and from the bidding because they didn’t meet the minimum criteria, leaving and Microsoft Corp. as the last remaining competitors.

The Pentagon, which announced the Jedi competition in March of last year, doesn’t expect to award the contract before July 19.

Ubhi, who had worked at Amazon before joining the government, helped craft the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, procurement for weeks after accepting a job offer in October 2017 from Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud unit, according to the lawsuit. Ubhi then made up an “elaborate lie” about an Amazon offer to buy his startup company, Tablehero, when he “belatedly” recused himself from working on the contract, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit also contends that an unnamed former official connected with the Navy participated in the JEDI contracting process even after accepting a position with

Ubhi is still employed by Amazon Web Services, according to his Twitter account.

An Amazon representative didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. The Defense Department declined to comment.

Efforts to reach Ubhi through multiple emails and by telephone were unsuccessful.

first filed its lawsuit in December in the US Court of Federal Claims, alleging the crafted overly narrow contract requirements and failed to investigate relationships between former Defense Department employees and Amazon.

The newest allegations may bolster Oracle’s argument that terms for the cloud project violate federal procurement standards.

The cloud project involves transitioning massive amount of Defense Department data to a commercially-operated cloud system.

Oracle’s lawsuit also made conflict-of-interest allegations about Anthony DeMartino, a former deputy chief of staff in the secretary of defense’s office. DeMartino had previously consulted for before assuming his role at the Pentagon.

In February, a judge paused court proceedings in the case to allow the Pentagon to review new information about potential conflicts of interests.

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In November, the US Government Accountability Office rejected Oracle’s conflict-of-interest allegations in a separate protest. The watchdog agency said the evidence it reviewed indicated that neither DeMartino nor Ubhi had substantive input into the contract’s terms or the procurement process.

Tech including Oracle banded together in an informal coalition last year to urge the Defense Department to split the contract among several suppliers.

They said the winner-take-all approach would lock the Pentagon into a single vendor and would heighten security risks. The department has said that making multiple awards under current acquisition law would be a slow process that could prevent it from quickly delivering new capabilities.

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Oracle Executive Vice President Kenneth Glueck, who leads the company’s Washington lobbying operation, said in a recent interview with Bloomberg that the company will continue to challenge requirements for the contract in conversations with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“You read the RFP and it just screams Amazon,” Glueck said, referring to the Defense Department’s request for proposals. “The RFP emphasizes all the things Amazon is very good at” and “completely de-emphasizes the things they’re not very good at.”

First Published: Wed, May 08 2019. 11:03 IST