Pentagon says 'open' cloud competition is 'the first of many'

By Justin Doubleday / March 29, 2018 at 1:20 PM

The Pentagon is stressing that its enterprise cloud initiative is a full and open competition with the single award contract planned with multiple off ramps, trying to dispel the notion the Defense Department is planning a decade-long award for one contractor.

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White, during the opening of her weekly press conference today, said the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud services competition is "an open competition" and "the first of many open competitions." Moving to cloud services will allow the department to "streamline our processes and implement a performance-based culture," she added.

"We wanted competition and now we have it," White said. She did not elaborate on what else DOD will compete beyond the initial cloud award.

She also said the JEDI award will be a two-year contract, with four two-year options.

Officials have struggled to articulate the scope of the JEDI contract, at times describing it as a transformative push into a single cloud where data can be shared freely across the department, and at other times saying it is merely complementary to other DOD cloud programs.

But during a call with reporters earlier this month, Pentagon Chief Management Officer Jay Gibson said it's fair to characterize the planned contract as a "multibillion-dollar award."

Many contractors fear commercial cloud behemoth Amazon Web Services is the department's preferred choice, and critics say DOD risks locking itself into a single cloud services provider by only making one award. Congress wants the Pentagon to justify its single-award approach.

The Pentagon released a draft request for proposals earlier this month, and the JEDI team plans to release a second draft RFP in early April. The final RFP will be released in May, according to DOD, with the award planned for September.