The Department of Defense has postponed awarding the 10$ billion JEDI cloud contract indefinitely until the newly appointed DoD Secretary, Mark Esper, completes a series of audits of the technology.
The Pentagon’s colossal cloud-computing contract, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure acquisition or JEDI, faces yet another setback despite clearing legal hurdles earlier this year.
The much-anticipated contract to collect and store classified military data and give U.S. warfighters the advantage of cutting-edge technologies, like AI, has been one of the most controversial DoD contract awards, with several lawsuits, investigations, and most recently, the President’s involvement in what is normally a bureaucratic process.
Back in July, a ruling released by U.S. Court of Federal Claims Senior Judge Eric Bruggink cleared the legal roadblocks for the Pentagon to award its JEDI contract after tech giant, Oracle, sued the Department of Defense alleging that the decade-long $10 billion contract, with its single-vendor award, was unfair and illegal.
The court ruled in favor of the DoD, deeming that the defendant’s criteria were enforceable and Oracle simply did not meet the minimum requirements by the established proposal submission date.
It then seemed the process could move forward and the plans to award the contract in August were in motion, that is until an announcement from a Pentagon spokesperson stated that in ”keeping his promise to Members of Congress and the American public, Secretary Esper [was] looking at the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program…[and that] no decision will be made on the program until he has completed his examination.”
This new development is good news for Oracle and IBM, which were both eliminated from the bidding competition and unsuccessfully sued to block the award. They and some members in Congress continue to argue that the Defense Department should select multiple companies instead of a single winner.
Some have gone as far as accusing the DoD and Amazon of having an unfairly close relationship, pointing to several Pentagon’s employees who have done work for Amazon’s cloud business, AWS.
But others, like Dana Deasy, the Pentagon’s chief information officer, has called for the need to get everyone on the same page. With news that China is mobilizing to build its own military cloud computing system, some officials are feeling the pressure to make a decision sooner.
“We don’t want to waste any more time moving forward because we know our potential adversaries are doing it at their own speed,” stated U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan at a closed-door media roundtable at the Pentagon.