Pentagon announces industry day for cloud steering group

By Justin Doubleday / February 15, 2018 at 11:00 AM

The Defense Department's cloud executive steering group will host an industry day next month to discuss its plans for a high-profile and often controversial commercial cloud acquisition, according to a Pentagon announcement.

The meeting is scheduled for March 7 at the Sheraton Pentagon City in Arlington, VA, according to a Feb. 14 statement from the Pentagon. The event is open to the public and will discuss the steering group's plans for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) acquisition, although "no live questions will be fielded during the event," the Feb. 14 statement notes.

The industry day will include speakers representing the DOD chief management officer, the Joint Staff, the chief information officer, U.S. Cyber Command, the office of the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, the Defense Digital Service, the Strategic Capabilities Office, and the program manager and contracting officer for JEDI, according to the statement.

In a Feb. 15 statement responding to frequently asked questions about the cloud acquisition, DOD summarized the steering group's tasking and stressed the committee is still in a "fact finding phase," with no final decisions made on the acquisition strategy.

The steering group has been closely watched since Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan established the committee in September to accelerate DOD's adoption of commercial cloud computing. Many in industry have raised concerns the steering group is planning to select one cloud provider for the entire DOD enterprise, and their fears were buffered by a leaked document showing an initial JEDI acquisition strategy that involved awarding a potential 10-year contract to one cloud services provider. 

The steering committee was initially chaired by Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord, and the group's initial acquisition strategy has been developed by the Defense Digital Service. The group includes other nontraditional players like SCO, the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental and the Defense Innovation Board.

In January, Shanahan reorganized the group, naming Jay Gibson, slated to become the Pentagon's chief management officer, as the chair. He also added the DOD CIO and the director of cost assessment and program evaluation as group members.

But lawmakers have recently said they are concerned by a lack of transparency from the group. Earlier this month, DOD awarded a potential $950 million contract to REAN Cloud, a premier Amazon Web Services partner, further stoking industry's concerns that DOD is planning to award all its cloud work to a single provider like AWS. But the Pentagon said the REAN Cloud award is unrelated to the steering group's acquisition.