Republicans Are Right: Defense Department Must Delay Massive Cronyism at Amazon

By Seton Motley

And then they should kill it.

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio recently became the latest Republican to weigh in on a huge hunk of cronyism the Department of Defense (DoD) is on the verge of almost certainly handing to uber-crony Amazon.

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Rubio Calls for Delay of Defense Department’s $10 Billion Cloud Bid:

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“Senator Marco Rubio is calling for the Defense Department to delay awarding its $10 billion cloud contract to ensure ‘a fair and open’ contest.

“Rubio, a Florida Republican, wrote a letter to National Security Adviser John Bolton asking him to direct the Pentagon to hold off on choosing a winner for the controversial project. In his letter, dated Thursday, Rubio said the project, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud or JEDI ‘suffers from a lack of competition’ and ‘will result in wasted taxpayer dollars.’

“‘Our warfighters deserve the best capability possible and the taxpayers deserve the best value possible,’ Rubio wrote. ‘Unfortunately, moving forward with the JEDI procurement will not further that goal.’…

“Rubio joins other key Republican lawmakers who have pressured the Trump administration to intervene in the Pentagon’s plan to choose just one winner for the deal.”

Other key Republican lawmakers?

Lawmakers Press Trump, Pentagon Over $10 Billion JEDI Cloud Deal:

“Two key Republican lawmakers are trying to pressure the Trump administration to intervene in the Pentagon’s plan to award $10 billion in cloud-computing services, citing concerns about the handling of the bid, which rivals say favors Inc.

“Representative Steve Womack of Arkansas, who serves on a panel that funds the department, wrote to President Donald Trump seeking his ‘personal attention’ for the award, saying that the president should approach the contract the same way he pushed for a lower price for new Air Force One planes being built by Boeing Co.

“Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who chairs the chamber’s Homeland Security Committee, asked in a June 24 letter to Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper that the award — expected to come as soon as next month — be delayed until an inspector general investigation of the process is complete….

“‘The JEDI program has the potential to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on technology that may not be the latest and most secure,’ Womack wrote in his letter, which is dated June 12.

“He also criticized the bid for ‘limiting competition’ through the criteria for the award.

“In March, lawmakers responsible for defense funding ordered the Pentagon to justify making the contract a single award. Womack, a longtime skeptic of the contract, said Defense Department reports on the issue had been ‘completely unsatisfactory.’

“Johnson noted news reports on potential conflicts of interest raised in a lawsuit by Oracle Corp., which sued in federal court to stop the award. The Pentagon launched an internal review and an investigation by the department’s inspector general.”

Potential conflicts of interest?

Cronyism: Having Your Ex-Employees Award Government Contracts…

“…makes it much more likely you’ll get government contracts.

“Meet Deap Ubhi….”

The Barack Obama Administration’s Defense Department hired Ubhi to oversee the DoDs awarding of the JEDI cloud computing contract.

Where was Ubhi working when Obama came calling?  Amazon Web Services – Amazon’s cloud computing company.

Well isn’t that special.

When Ubhi clambered aboard the Obama DoD, JEDI was going to be awarded to multiple providers in an open and fair process.

And you certainly want multiple providers for any cloud backup gig.  Certainly one as big as the DoDs.

You, Gentle Reader, almost certainly have multiple backups currently running on your computer and your phone.

The military won’t send a paratrooper out of a plane with only one chute.

A reasonable cloud contract award would be: five companies – each responsible for 40% of the backup.  That’s 200% – meaning two companies for each byte of data.

Because a whole lot of very brave men and women will be betting their lives on getting the data they need – exactly when they need it.

That’s what the DoD contractor process was.

Enter Ex-Amazon employee Ubhi.

Suddenly, the multiple provider contract – was transmogrified to sole source.  $10 billion worth of cloud backup work – all for only one company.

And the contractor description was rewritten – so only Amazon met the specifications.

Well isn’t that special.

Oh – Ubhi was finally outed for his titanic crony obnoxiousness.

At which point Ubhi absurdly declared himself recused – long after his damage had been done.

And two weeks after that, Ubhi quit the DoD – at which point he was promptly hired by…Amazon Web Services.  Or should we say RE-hired.

Well isn’t that special.

It is this titanic crony obnoxiousness to which these Republicans are rightly objecting.

It is only reasonable to delay the contract’s award – at least until, as Senator Johnson says, the Inspector General investigation is concluded.

At which point, the titanic crony obnoxiousness Amazon received will be officially documented.

At which point, the JEDI process should go from delayed – to dead.

Seton Motley created Less Government to reduce the size, scope and sphere of influence of government. At each and every level of government. Wherever government is found.

Seton Motley is the founder and president of Less Government. He is a consultant, writer, television and radio commentator, political and policy strategist, lecturer, debater, and activist.

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