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Four U.S. lawmakers ask Trump to move forward with $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract

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By Reuters
Four U.S. lawmakers ask Trump to move forward with $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract
FILE PHOTO: House Armed Services Committee Chsirman Mac Thornberry (R-CA) chairs a committee hearing on "The National Defense Strategy and the Nuclear Posture Review" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts   -   Copyright  JOSHUA ROBERTS(Reuters)
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By Nandita Bose and Jeffrey Dastin

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Four members of U.S. Congress, including House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mac Thornberry, sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday urging him to move forward with a $10 billion (£8 billion) cloud contract with the Department of Defense.

The letter comes after Trump said his administration was looking closely at’s <AMZN.O> bid on the cloud contract after getting complaints from other tech companies.

“We believe that it is essential for our national security to move forward as quickly as possible with the award and implementation of this contract,” said the letter, a copy of which has been seen by Reuters.

The contract called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) has been caught up in controversy after Oracle Corp <ORCL.N>, a competitor, expressed concern about the role of a former Amazon employee who worked on the project until recusing himself, then later left the Defense Department and returned to Amazon Web Services.

Since then, Amazon and Microsoft Corp <MSFT.O> were selected to continue competing for the cloud computing contract and the selection left Oracle and IBM Corp <IBM.N> out of the competition.

Earlier this month, Oracle lost a lawsuit challenging the contract award. A judge ruled Oracle did not have standing to claim it was wronged by the decision because it did not meet the contract requirements.

The members, including Mac Thornberry, Michael R. Turner, Elise Stefanik and Robert J. Wittman, said in the letter that the House Armed Services Committee has conducted oversight of the contract from the start and that the courts have upheld the Defense Department’s “handling of the competition.”

“It is understandable that some of the companies competing for the contract are disappointed at not being selected as one of the finalists,” the letter said, adding that further delays will hurt the country’s security and increase costs for the contract.

JEDI meets only a portion of the Defense Department’s need for cloud services and is an important first step in competing with countries like China, the members said. Any unnecessary delay will hurt the country’s security and increase costs of the contract, they added.

Amazon and Oracle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington and Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Editing by Susan Thomas)