Why Did Microsoft Win That Big Military Contract?

Microsoft by Mike Mozart, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Original

Something has been bothering me for a while now, and while impeachment is going on and distracting most everybody, I still have to put it out there: I don’t understand why the Trump Administration picked Microsoft for their new big military contract.

I mean, sure. Amazon is led by Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, a paper that has repeatedly attacked the President, but I’m not even worried about the personal interest aspect of this. I’m more concerned about the fact that Microsoft seems absolutely unprepared to execute this contract.

In the more than six weeks since winning the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, deal, which is worth up to $10 billion, Microsoft has been trying to lure talent from defense contractors and other companies and get employees the necessary authorization to work on the project, said the people, who asked not to be named because they’re not authorized to speak on behalf of the company.

[…]

Microsoft has a history with government contracts and has spent years going through the process of clearing employees for defense work, said two of the people. The company has hundreds of cleared engineers, one of the people said. But there are so many people in the pipeline that Microsoft faces an 18-month bottleneck getting current employees through the process, a different person said.

Microsoft’s website lists more than 100 openings for people with security clearances, though none mention JEDI by name. Openings are for positions including principal software engineering managers and principal program managers. In January, Microsoft plans to hold two recruiting events in Reston, Virginia, near the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley.

What’s more is that Trump’s influence – if it was there – puts in charge of a new DoD project a company whose largest political donations have been to… Bernie Sanders? Furthermore, Amazon’s political donations don’t seem to be going to any presidential candidates, and the non-presidential politicians getting money is fairly evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.

So, this isn’t really about bashing Trump or his influence on the process, and it’s not to say Amazon is being stupid about the lawsuit. I am genuinely wondering what on earth led the Trump administration to awarding this big project to Microsoft, who does donate a lot to Democratic political candidates AND why it seems to be trying to build up the staff it needs to actually execute the contract.

It just seems… really weird.