Judge in JEDI case limits documents, witnesses

Oracle's push to crack open Amazon's bid to run the DOD's $10 billion cloud program and hear from former Amazon employees was rejected by a judge.

Oracle's request to crack open Amazon's bid to run the Pentagon's $10 billion warfighter cloud program and hear from former Amazon Web Services employees was rejected by a judge, according to court documents released Jan. 28.

Related court documents also revealed that the Department of Defense is conducting an investigation into whether any DOD employees with ties to Amazon Web Services have a conflict of interest with regard to the cloud deal that "cannot be avoided, mitigated, or neutralized."

Oracle filed suit against DOD in December 2018, alleging that the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) procurement was developed with restrictive requirements that tilted the outcome toward a preferred vendor – Amazon Web Services – and that those requirement were developed with the help of former AWS employees despite a conflict of interest. AWS was added to the case as a defendant at its own request.

The ruling from Judge Eric G. Bruggink of the Court of Federal Claims was in response to a request from Oracle to expand the record in the lawsuit to include documents related to three individuals Oracle said it believes were instrumental in developing the DOD's cloud policy, the JEDI procurement and the actual bids from vendors including AWS.

Additionally, Oracle sought to depose former DOD employees Anthony DeMartino and Deap Ubhi and obtain documents related to their role and the role of Sally B. Donnelly, former senior advisor to then Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in developing the JEDI solicitation and its requirements.

JEDI contracting officer Chandra Brooks, according to a declaration dated Jan. 7, conducted an investigation into conflicts of interest involving Ubhi and "four other current or former DOD employees with ties to Amazon Web Services" and found that "the actions of these individuals did not negatively impact the integrity of the JEDI procurement."

Brooks also stated that now that AWS has made a bid for the JEDI contract, a new investigation into whether the work of Ubhi "and potentially others" creates an organizational conflict of interest. That post-proposal probe was not complete as of Jan. 7, according to the document.

The conflict investigation will be wrapped up by the time the field of bidders is thinned via a competitive range, Brooks said.

The filing also revealed that as of Jan. 7, no decision had been made about advancing any of the bidders -- among them AWS, Microsoft, Oracle and IBM -- to the second stage of the procurement. (Like Oracle, IBM filed a pre-award protest of the JEDI solicitation with the Government Accountability Office, but so far IBM hasn't sued.)

Ubhi, a former and current AWS employee who worked on the cloud solicitation during a stint as a member of the Defense Digital Service team, is alleged by Oracle in its lawsuit to have had a conflict of interest with regard to his JEDI work.  

In its court filings, Amazon Web Services states that Oracle "wildly overstates" Ubhi's contribution to the JEDI solicitation, saying that Ubhi worked on the Digital Service team on JEDI for three weeks before recusing himself voluntarily in October 2017.

DeMartino, a former deputy chief of staff to Secretary Mattis, worked for a consulting firm that did work for Amazon Web Services. In its filings, AWS argued that proceedings in Oracle's protest of the JEDI procurement at the GAO showed that DeMartino's contribution to the cloud strategy and the procurement was administrative.

Bruggink ruled against depositions of Ubhi and DeMartino and wrote that that material on Donnelly appears to be "irrelevant." Additionally, the judge noted that some of the allegations listed in Oracle's filing "are unsupported by any evidence, casting only suspicion" on the two.  The judge also indicated that such discovery or an advancement of the record could be forthcoming under certain circumstances.

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