Mar 28, 2017

Trump could intervene in fight over Pentagon tech contract

Cliff Owen / AP

A court blocked Palantir, a software company, from bidding last year on an Army data analytics program that is currently overpriced and underperforming. Palantir said it could supply a system (at around $100 million/yr) that would give soldiers information about weather, terrain, and likely locations for ambushes and roadside bombs. Palantir is appealing the ruling.

Given Trump's track record of vying with Boeing and Lockheed Martin for cheaper contracts, he could swoop in and change the game in order to cut costs, according to Fortune.

The claims from Palantir's case imply the government's terms for bids excluded Palantir from the start:

The Army has, "a failed procurement approach that is unlawful, that bene­fits no one but the incumbent defense contracting industry, that irrationally resists innovation from Silicon Valley, that wastes billions in taxpayer dollars, and that even risks the lives and effectiveness of our Soldiers in uniform" and has "an attitude that effectively tells units in the field, 'Don't let your war get in the way of our program.'"

Rebuttal from an Army official who used to head up procurement: "These people came in and said, 'We have our own business model and we're going to fight to the death for it.'"

It's about the establishment, too: Instead of Palantir's the Army chose a system — that often sits unplugged and unused because it's so archaic — from a team of establishment beltway defense contractors. As Congressman Duncan Hunter put it, "The Army...is full of fiefdoms, where they all protect their people and their programs. Palantir had no chance." That dynamic could play to Trump's anti-establishment style.

The Palantir-Trump Admin connection: Peter Thiel, one of Palantir's co-founders, is a Trump ally. Plus, Mike Flynn, H.R. McMaster, and Jim Mattis have been vocal supporters of Palantir's technology.

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

President Trump tweeted late Sunday, "Schools in our country should be opened ASAP."

Zoom in: Trump doubled down on his push to reopen schools despite NIAD Director Anthony Fauci cautioning against the move earlier this month and as the number of novel coronavirus cases continues to rise, along with the death toll — which is nearing 100,000 in the U.S.

In photos: Authorities issue warning as Americans venture out for Memorial Day weekend

Venice Beach in Los Angeles on May 24. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Authorities urged Americans to maintain social distancing and wear masks against the coronavirus amid reports of packed beaches and bars during the Memorial Day weekend.

Driving the news: Law enforcement stepped up beach patrols, authorities on Florida's Gulf Coast closed parking lots because they were full and there were crowded scenes at Lake of the Ozarks bars in Missouri, per AP, which reports a shooting injured several people at a packed Daytona Beach in Florida.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 5,405,029 — Total deaths: 344,997 — Total recoveries — 2,168,408Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 1,642,021 — Total deaths: 97,698 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy