Pentagon selects Microsoft for cloud computing contract and more business news

The Pentagon on Friday reaffirmed Microsoft as the winner of a cloud computing contract potentially worth $10 billion, although the start of work is delayed by a legal battle over rival Amazon’s claim that the bidding process was flawed.

“The department has completed its comprehensive re-evaluation of the JEDI cloud proposals and determined that Microsoft’s proposal continues to represent the best value to the government,” the Pentagon said.

The Pentagon had requested time to review how it evaluated certain technical aspects of the bids after the judge who is presiding over Amazon’s bid protest in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims issued a preliminary injunction on Feb. 13. The judge said that Amazon’s challenge likely had merit in some respects.

The contract was awarded to Microsoft last October, prompting Amazon to cry foul.

Amazon Web Services, a market leader in providing cloud computing services, had long been considered a leading candidate to run the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project, known as JEDI. The project will store and process vast amounts of classified data, allowing the U.S. military to improve communications with soldiers on the battlefield and use artificial intelligence to speed up its war planning and fighting capabilities.


Watchdog questions pilot medical rules

A government watchdog says federal regulators lack the ability to verify whether private pilots are eligible for more relaxed medical requirements and whether the looser rule is compromising air safety.

The Transportation Department’s inspector general examined the Federal Aviation Administration’s ability to oversee a program that lets pilots of small planes fly without undergoing the normal medical-certification process. More than 55,000 pilots have registered for the alternate approach, called BasicMed.

The inspector general found that the FAA could not verify pilots’ eligibility for BasicMed — which includes having a valid driver’s license — because it isn’t set up to flag all incidents that could lead to revocation of a license, such as reckless driving or being involved in a fatal wreck. Also, the auditor said FAA cannot verify that doctors who examine the pilots are licensed.

The FAA set up a group last year to study whether pilots using BasicMed are riskier than those with medical certificates. However, FAA told the inspector general that it needs several more years of accident data. Further, the auditor said FAA can’t make “a meaningful comparison” of accident and death rates because it doesn’t track hours flown by BasicMed pilots.

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