GAO dismisses Oracle's protest against Pentagon's $10B JEDI cloud contract 

By Justin Doubleday / November 14, 2018 at 1:25 PM

The Government Accountability Office has dismissed Oracle America's protest against the Pentagon's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud services solicitation.

GAO concluded the Defense Department's plan to make a single award for the JEDI cloud program follows applicable statutes and regulations “because the agency reasonably determined that a single-award approach is in the government’s best interests for various reasons, including national security concerns, as the statute allows,” according to a statement released today by Ralph White, GAO's managing associate general counsel for procurement law.

“GAO’s decision also concludes that the Defense Department provided reasonable support for all of the solicitation provisions that Oracle contended exceeded the agency’s needs,” White wrote. “Finally, GAO’s decision concludes that the allegations regarding conflicts of interest do not provide a basis for sustaining Oracle’s protest.”

While Oracle's protest was dismissed, IBM has also filed a protest against JEDI. White said the protests “could not be resolved concurrently.” A decision on IBM's protest is due Jan. 18.

Meanwhile, the window for bidding on the JEDI contract closed on Oct. 12. The Pentagon plans to make the award in April 2019.

Oracle filed its protest shortly after the Pentagon released the JEDI request for proposals. In an Aug. 6 protest filing, Oracle argued the Pentagon had not sufficiently justified making a single award for the potentially 10-year, $10 billion, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract.

Earlier this year, Oracle successfully protested DOD's award of an other transaction agreement for cloud services migration. The company has received some criticism for slowing down DOD's IT modernization plans.

"Oracle believes that both the warfighter and the taxpayer benefit most from a rigorous and truly competitive process," Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger wrote in a statement. "We remain undeterred in our commitment to bring tremendous value and flexibility to our customers, including the Department of Defense. Oracle’s JEDI bid represents a forward-thinking, next generation cloud focused on security, performance, and autonomy and a move away from the legacy cloud infrastructure that seems to be favored in the RFP.”  

IBM joined Oracle in protesting JEDI on Oct. 10. While IBM still submitted a bid for the contract, the company criticized the single-award strategy and accused the Pentagon of tailoring the JEDI program to a “specific vendor.”

Amazon Web Services has been considered the front runner for the JEDI contract, in large part due to its previous work providing cloud services to the CIA, which provided AWS with a head start on gaining government security certifications. AWS is also the largest commercial cloud services provider on the market.

The JEDI program was born out of a “cloud executive steering group” set up last September by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to accelerate the department's adoption of cloud technologies. "While technological modernization has many dimensions, I believe accelerating DOD's adoption of cloud computing technologies is critical to maintaining our military's technological advantage," Shanahan wrote in a memo establishing the group.

After first signaling the JEDI winner may be the sole cloud services provider for the entire department, DOD officials have since stressed the department will maintain multiple providers. But some officials have argued awarding the JEDI contract to more than one company would increase the complexity of sharing data and integrating applications across different cloud environments.

JEDI will give DOD a “general-purpose” cloud, while the military will also have multiple “fit-for-purpose” clouds, as well as internal cloud infrastructure, according to a strategy approved by DOD Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy this summer.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have fenced in funding for the JEDI cloud program, as they want DOD to provide them with the department's acquisition strategies and spending plans for cloud services. Two Republican lawmakers recently sent a letter to DOD's inspector general requesting an investigation into the JEDI program and Pentagon officials' previous work on behalf of AWS.