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Defense Secretary James Mattis. Photo: Sebastián Vivallo Oñate/Agencia Makro/Getty Images

A dossier distributed by a private investigative firm alleges that a Pentagon aide corruptly promoted Amazon's bid for a giant Defense Department cloud-computing contract, Defense One reports.

Why it matters: The controversy underscores the high stakes as the Pentagon decides who will get its 10-year, $10 billion contract. Industry rivals tell Axios that Amazon's Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the favorite in the bidding process.

The details: The official described in the dossier, Sally Donnelly, former senior adviser to the secretary of defense, used to manage a consulting firm that worked with AWS. The dossier raises questions about whether AWS paid her to guide the cloud requirements towards AWS and whether she had divested related investments.

What they're saying:

  • “While at the Department of Defense, Ms. Donnelly had no role in acquisition or procurement,” her lawyer told Defense One in a statement. According to government filings Defense One and Nextgov obtained, she divested her entire stake in the consulting firm, SBD Advisors (now ITC Global Advisors), when she went to work for Defense Secretary James Mattis.
  • The Pentagon’s press secretary, Dana White, told Defense One, “A team of department experts developed the requirements and solicitation, and members of that team were screened for conflicts of interest and advised on compliance with applicable procurement and ethics laws. Neither Secretary Mattis, Ms. Donnelly, nor anyone else in the secretary’s front office participated in drafting the requirements or the solicitation. Any assertion or suggestion to the contrary is false.”
  • ITC Global Advisors dismissed allegations Donnelly or the firm had influence on the proposal or that Donnelly could profit from a deal.

AWS suggests its rivals have been pushing the dossier.

  • “These types of misleading articles are fueled by old guard technology companies who have resorted to these types of unseemly tactics ‎because they’re struggling to compete effectively in open competitions in the private and public sectors,” a spokesperson told Defense One and Nextgov.
  • Oracle has filed a protest to the Pentagon’s request for proposals, claiming the Department of Defense has created an “anti-competitive” environment. Oracle has been vocal about the Pentagon’s contracting processes related to Amazon in the past.
  • Per Defense One, Oracle did not respond to requests for comment about whether it was leading an effort to undermine Amazon or providing funding for the dossier or RosettiStarr, the firm behind the dossier. IBM said it was “not involved” in the dossier. A Microsoft spokesperson said the company “does not comment on active RFP processes.”

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with First Lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.

Republicans pledge to set aside differences and work with Biden

President Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Several Republicans praised President Biden's calls for unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday and pledged to work together for the benefit of the American people.

Why it matters: The Democrats only have a slim majority in the Senate and Biden will likely need to work with the GOP to pass his legislative agenda.

The Biden protection plan

Joe Biden announces his first run for the presidency in June 1987. Photo: Howard L. Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

The Joe Biden who became the 46th president on Wednesday isn't the same blabbermouth who failed in 1988 and 2008.

Why it matters: Biden now heeds guidance about staying on task with speeches and no longer worries a gaffe or two will cost him an election. His staff also limits the places where he speaks freely and off the cuff. This Biden protective bubble will only tighten in the months ahead, aides tell Axios.