JEDI contract on hold for DOD chief's review
- By Lauren C. Williams, Adam Mazmanian
- Aug 06, 2019
The Pentagon will not award the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract until Defense Secretary Mark Esper reviews the program. The massive warfighter cloud contract is designed give combat troops at the network edge connectivity to intelligence data and support the use of artificial intelligence across the Defense Department.
JEDI was expected to be awarded in late August.
"Keeping his promise to Members of Congress and the American public, Secretary Esper is looking at the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program," said Elissa Smith, a DOD spokeswoman, via email statement. "No decision will be made on the program until he has completed his examination."
Meanwhile, two senior Senate Democrats urged the Defense secretary to "resist political pressures" when it comes to the Pentagon's 10-year single-award cloud contract.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) wrote to Esper with concerns that his planned JEDI review was driven by political considerations and potentially could compromise the integrity of the federal procurement process.
"The importance of political noninterference is especially important in the context of Department of Defense procurements, where procurement decisions must focus on cost, quality, performance and other considerations directly related to promoting our national security in an increasingly complex global environment," Reed and Warner wrote in their Aug. 5 letter to Esper.
Although JEDI has faced intensifying scrutiny since the start of the solicitation process, it has already survived legal battles and pre-award protests. Cloud provider Oracle sued DOD, claiming conflicts of interest between interested vendors and DOD employees overseeing the over the procurement process and favoritism towards Amazon.
Esper first announced his intent to examine the JEDI deal at a July 24 news conference.
"I've heard from everybody about the … JEDI contract, and that's one of the things I want to take a hard look at," Esper said.
The comments followed those from President Donald Trump, who said he'd received "tremendous complaints" over the contract. Several House Republicans then soon issued a letter urging the president not to interfere with the process.
DOD CIO Dana Deasy previously told reporters that any delay in JEDI would jeopardize the department's mission.
"There are active sets of programs that the combatant commands are depending on when that contract gets released," Deasy said at the time, noting that U.S. Transportation Command is "actively developing a set of next-generation applications" for JEDI.
"If JEDI was to get further delayed, guess what happens? Now you're back to the model where people need to go build their own cloud solutions," he said at the time. "That does not serve the Department of Defense well; it does not serve the warfighter well."
Amazon Web Services and Microsoft are the two companies that met the gate criteria of the solicitation and are currently vying for the contract.
This article first appeared on FCW, a partner site to Defense Systems.
Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.
Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.
Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.
Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.
Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.
Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.
Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.