Window closed for proposals on Pentagon's potential $10B JEDI cloud contract

By Justin Doubleday / October 12, 2018 at 5:15 PM

The Pentagon has closed the window on bidding for its potentially 10-year, $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract.

Companies were required to submit their JEDI proposals in-person to officials at the Pentagon between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. today, according to the JEDI solicitation. The winner of the commercial contract will be responsible for providing Defense Department users with cloud services across all levels of classification and down to the tactical edge in combat zones. The contract has a two-year base period, but with all options included, would last 10 years and be worth a maximum of $10 billion.

The Pentagon declined to comment today on the path forward for the JEDI program, except to confirm plans to make the award in April 2019.

The JEDI competition has been controversial since the outset, with contractors privately and now publicly alleging the Pentagon has primed the single-award contract for Amazon Web Services. Both Oracle and IBM have taken the unusual step of filing pre-award protests with the Government Accountability Office. Both companies take issue with the Pentagon's single-award approach.

"No business in the world would build a cloud the way JEDI would and then lock in to it for a decade," Sam Gordy, general manager of IBM U.S. Federal, wrote in an Oct. 10 blog post. "JEDI turns its back on the preferences of Congress and the administration, is a bad use of taxpayer dollars and was written with just one company in mind. America's warfighters deserve better."

However, Gordy added IBM would still bid on the contract. An IBM spokesman confirmed the company submitted a proposal today, explaining, "we felt a responsibility to call attention to the flaws in this procurement via our protest this week." 

The Government Accountability Office has yet to make a decision on either company's bid protests.

In addition to those challenges, the Pentagon could also be tripped up by lawmakers skeptical of the JEDI plan. The fiscal year 2019 defense appropriations bill forbids DOD from spending funds to migrate data and applications to the JEDI cloud services until at least 90 days after the Pentagon delivers a detailed report on its cloud plans to Congress. 

DOD Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy, who is running the Pentagon's cloud initiatives, has said JEDI is a "pathfinder" toward an enterprise cloud for the department. However, he says the military will continue to maintain multiple clouds after JEDI is awarded. Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has also tried to quash the "one cloud to rule them all" concerns, stating earlier this year JEDI represents less than 20 percent of DOD's cloud capacity.

AWS is seen as the front runner in the JEDI competition largely due to the government security certifications it has already secured through prior work for the CIA, as well as other DOD entities. The company is also the largest commercial cloud services provider in the world and offers a scale of services few other providers can muster.

An AWS spokeswoman declined to comment for this story. 

Microsoft Azure is considered Amazon's most formidable competition for the JEDI contract. Julia White, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure, confirmed the company's proposal in a statement to Inside Defense.

"We believe our over 40 year partnership with the DOD, in conjunction with our unique and differentiated enterprise cloud capabilities from homefront to the tactical edge, best supports the DOD in advancing its mission and accelerating the speed in which they can achieve return on their cloud investments," White wrote. "We look forward to competing for the JEDI cloud contract and continuing to provide the DOD with our latest commercial innovations."

Even if Microsoft loses out on the JEDI contract, it and others will have another bite at the DOD apple with the Defense Enterprise Office Solution contract. The contract, which is being run by the Defense Information Systems Agency, is planned as a $7.8 billion single-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract with a five-year base period and a five-year option period, according to a May 21 DISA press release. A DEOS contract award is expected sometime in early 2019, according to the release.

General Dynamics Information Technology, which has run DOD's internal MilCloud 2.0 program since it bought CSRA Inc. last year, declined to comment on whether it is competing for the JEDI program. Google announced it would not compete for JEDI earlier this week due to a number of factors, including DOD's single-award approach.

As cloud platform providers battle it out over JEDI, DEOS and other contracts, many other companies are watching how the Pentagon's cloud transition plays out, with an eye on related opportunities such as cloud migration and security.

For instance, Leidos is "agnostic" as to which providers the Pentagon chooses, as it can work with all of them, according to company spokesman Jason Kello.

"Leidos has been a trusted partner for DOD and government agencies as they migrate their applications and data to the cloud," Kello told Inside Defense. "We will be interested in the contracts that follow the JEDI decision on providing that kind of capability."