Defense Secretary Mark Esper recused himself from reviewing a $10 billion cloud-computing Pentagon contract because his son works for one of the contract’s original bidders, the Defense Department said Tuesday, according to reports.
The review of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract will be delegated to Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist, “out of an abundance of caution,” a Pentagon spokesperson said, according to The New York Times.
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The statement stressed Esper’s recusal was not required.
The contract is an effort to centralize the military’s computing infrastructure.
Amazon and Microsoft are the only two companies competing for the contract, although Amazon is seen as a frontrunner due to its past work with the CIA, The Washington Post reported.
Oracle and IBM are no longer in the running.
The statement didn’t say where Esper’s son works, but an IBM spokesperson told The Post he is a digital strategy consultant with IBM. “His role is unrelated to IBM’s pursuit of JEDI,” the spokesperson said.
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The Pentagon delayed awarding the contract after President Trump, who has been critical of Amazon in the past, complained the project favors Amazon and said he’s receiving “tremendous complaints” over the process, The Times reported.