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Oracle policy chief pledges to keep up fight on JEDI cloud bid

(Bloomberg) --Oracle Corp. will continue to fight the terms of the Pentagon’s $10 billion winner-take-all cloud computing contract after being kicked out of the bidding process this month, according to the company’s chief lobbyist.

Oracle Executive Vice President Kenneth Glueck, who leads the company’s Washington policy shop, said in an interview with Bloomberg News that the company will continue to challenge requirements for the project known as JEDI in a lawsuit before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and 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.”

The renewed push by Oracle comes two weeks after the Pentagon announced it eliminated the company and International Business Machines Corp. from the bidding because they didn’t meet the minimum criteria, leaving Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. as the last remaining competitors. Oracle’s moves are also taking place as a leadership transition is underway at the Defense Digital Service, which developed the cloud project.

A Defense Department spokeswoman declined to comment on pending litigation.

‘Restricted Competition’

In letters to leaders of the congressional Appropriations and Armed Services committees, Glueck said that the Pentagon “arbitrarily restricted competition” by creating overly narrow “gating criteria.” Those are a set of standards the Pentagon used to determine which companies’ bids would be fully evaluated.

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Buildings stand at the Oracle Corp. headquarters campus in Redwood City, California, U.S., on Monday, March 14, 2016. Photographer: Michael Short/Bloomberg

“We respectfully request that your Committee exercise its oversight authority regarding the JEDI procurement,” Glueck wrote in the letter dated Thursday. “We believe that a full and fair consideration of four competing JEDI proposals is in the best interests of the warfighter, the taxpayer, and the United States.”

Glueck’s letter alleges that Redwood City, California-based Oracle was eliminated after the Pentagon determined the Defense Department would make up too much of the company’s business. Had the Pentagon chosen a more recent time frame to make that evaluation, the company would have cleared the first hurdle of the gating criteria. Glueck didn’t say whether he thought Oracle would have also passed the Pentagon’s subsequent tests.

“They got to page eight of a 950-page proposal,“ Glueck said in the interview on Thursday. “We were kicked out on gate one.”

JEDI Lawsuit

Oracle filed a lawsuit in December in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, alleging the Pentagon crafted overly narrow contract requirements and failed to investigate relationships between former Defense Department employees and Amazon. The Government Accountability Office and an internal Pentagon investigation determined the conflict of interest allegations didn’t compromise the integrity of the procurement.

Federal Claims Court Judge Eric Bruggink last week lifted a stay in the case, and oral arguments are expected the week of July 8. The Pentagon doesn’t plan to make an award before July 19.