The behemoth that is Amazon continues to be in the right place at the right time as they appear to be the company of choice for a Department of Defense contract to become the single provider for the Pentagon's cloud computing system. It should come as no shock that the contract I’m talking about is no story of good fortune brought on by a hard work, and a good product at a good price, but rather a story of monopoly being built upon friends in all the right places.
It’s disturbing to infer the Department of Defense has been compromised and is simply another section of the swamp that still needs to be drained. On March 7th, 2018, the Pentagon opened up a search for cloud computing. Amazon’s competition is already crying foul as they watched a nearly $1 billion contract to migrate the Pentagon’s data to the cloud be awarded to REAN Cloud LLC, an Amazon partner.
This award raises anti-trust concerns because it could solidify the monopoly for Amazon for more than a decade. “Roger Waldron, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, which represents defense contractors including Oracle, IBM and Microsoft, said ‘going to a single vendor closes the market to just that vendor for a decade.’”
Competing IT companies are dismayed at the obvious risks granting multiple contracts to one company to handle the future of America’s cloud in relation to our most delicate and critical secrets. You don’t have to be an Amazon rival or tech genius to understand the magnitude of the risk associated with giving one company the control of cloud computing system for the entire Pentagon. A move like this would literally put the military men and women as well as every American in a dangerous position as the secrets of the United States would simply be one hack away from destruction.
Why would the DoD do such a seemingly obvious and dangerous thing? It didn’t happen in a vacuum. Amazon, led by Jeff Bezos, in recent years has created a powerful lobbying arm to influence Washington. It’s paid off for Amazon already as they were awarded a $600 million contract from the CIA in 2013. As critics have claimed this new contract is already in the bag, the Pentagon has argued that is not true. Pentagon officials state they’ve not made a decision despite the open secret that they are giving it to Amazon.
Bloomberg News reported on March, 7, 2018 that “Chanda Brooks, a Pentagon contracting officer, told the gathering Wednesday that market research shows that multiple companies are capable of meeting the requirements and that the ‘full and open competition’ would result in a single award. Van Name, of the Defense Digital Service, which recruits technology experts from the private sector for stints working on projects at the Pentagon, denied that the department is leaning toward Amazon.” It’s hard to believe Brooks’ reassurances that the process isn’t rigged as you begin to search through the multitude of appointees involved in the process who now work for the Pentagon who were once Amazon employees and found their place in the swamp as Obama appointees.
The Defense Innovation Board chaired by Jeff Bezos and fellow Clinton supporter and Google Executive, Eric Schmidt, is staffed by “Presidential Innovation Fellows”. These “Fellows” have great power to influence the choices of how government spends its money on the tech of the future.
According to a piece titled Enemies of Trump Killing Competition in the D.C. Swamp by Edward Woodson, “These ‘fellows’ spend two years with the government and are not required to divest of their company stock or other perks. If you think this sounds just like Crony Capitalism, then you are right. This situation also allows the enemies of Trump to continue to get rewarded by Obama appointees who gleefully give away government contracts to the very people who spent top dollar to stop Donald J. Trump from taking office.” Amazon has done a good job of gaming the D.C. swamp.
The swamp needs to be drained at the DoD. The procurement process is in desperate need of a good house cleaning. One president shouldn’t be able to stack the deck against the next one when it comes to our National Security. Security in our data is more important every day. The safety of our nation literally is as vulnerable to a foreign hacker as we ever were to a nuclear warhead from an attacker, perhaps much more so. Playing politics with that security is beyond reckless.
America needs a multi-provider approach to our cloud computing technology. Allowing one company to rule the world of our technology is a dangerous monopoly for a multitude of reasons, it’s time to get it under control.