Why President Trump should be questioning the DoD 'cloud' contracting process

On July 18, 2019, Jeff Bezos’s ethically conflicted Washington Post put out another negative report about President Trump, this time in his capacity as commander in chief, challenging a $10 billion contract for essentially a 21st century military combat cloud.

Trump says Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud contract should be investigated. Again.

President Trump on Thursday said he would direct aides to investigate a pending military contract widely expected to be awarded to Amazon, saying he had heard multiple complaints about an allegedly unfair bidding process.

His involvement would be an unusual Oval Office intervention in a process normally handled by military officials trained to follow complicated procurement laws and regulations.

I am not being unfair. The Washington Post, now owned by the Bezos Amazon business empire, and has been known to simply publish its owner’s press releases as hard news. 

Since I sincerely doubt President Trump would have to call an Amazon techie help desk, I can share my experiences, which, however minor, unmistakeably put him on very solid ground in calling out Amazon.

I received an Amazon Fire Tablet as a gift and it comes in very handy when traveling. It is a good product, but sadly, it eventually went dark, quite literally. On the device, there is only the on/off switch with no BIT technology (built in testing) so it simply works or doesn’t, and it died.

I was around 150 miles from my home and decided to call the Amazon toll free number to ask for help. I must stress everyone I spoke with was polite. Unfortunately my connecting with tech support put a very heavily accented male on the phone.

Since they use name and then e-mail address for their engagement, he had a terrible time understanding the spelling of my name. It went on for a while back and forth and then finally the “may I speaker with a supervisor” request. “Yes” and then indefinite hold, so after more than 10 minutes, I tried again.

This time a less-accented help male came on the line and I asked his name “Dice” spelled D I C E-you mean like Andrew Dice Clay (lame joke) but he laughed so I thought this was progress. But alas, he also had trouble with my name. This time I asked him to spell it back, and for the first time in my life it wasn’t the B for P problem, like Justin Timberlake, but that they had spelled my name with two “t's." It was a t for p problem that we fixed.

I was then told my Fire Tablet was not under warranty. “O.K., what can I do? I really need it for a trip.” Someone named Mary then came on the line and offered me a 25% discount. That was fine with me so I asked: Could you please send me a new one? “Sorry, I cannot do that, you have to order it online.” Me: “You mean with the Amazon Fire Tablet that doesn’t work?’ Mary-“Oh.”

So we left it at the idea that when I arrived back home, at my home computer, I could go on line and order a replacement.   

But then I got clever and called Amazon again. Another heavily accented male who would not divulge what country his help desk service was located in, answered my call.

I asked where the nearest Amazon store was, giving him my Arlington, Virginia zip code. He replied that there was no store in my zip code. “How about Arlington County?” --nope!  Well then, how about Washington D.C.?

He was pleased that he had found a store in Bellevue, Washington for me.  I informed him that I had said Washington, District of Columbia, which is our nation’s capital. He simply repeated that the closest store was in Bellevue.

Now with a story like that, I can imagine that at the height of a combat engagement, a Fleet Admiral would be told he would have to travel 2,763 miles to replace a component in his combat cloud. But wait! He could use a UPS truck to deliver it. However, since my doorbell rang at 10 p.m. during Amazon Prime time last week  with a UPS driver saying his truck just hit and disabled my parked car, I am also not so sure of the Amazon logistical supply chain.

But that is a different story for a different day.


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