Key House lawmakers vowed to consider changes to the Pentagon’s arcane technology buying process after senior Defense Department officials canceled its flagship cloud computing program.
“All options are on the table,” House Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep.
On July 6, the Pentagon announced it would terminate the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract awarded to
The cancellation “highlights a serious flaw in the acquisition process,” Rogers said in an email. “Moving DOD to enterprise cloud has already taken multiple years and now the process has been further delayed,” he said. “We must move quicker than the glacial pace we are on now.”
Rogers, who became the top-ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee in January, reserved his harshest criticism for contractors who are perceived to abuse the contracting process with “frivolous protests and litigation.”
“There must be repercussions for those that protest an award and then lose their protest,” he said. “I intend to remedy this problem.”
Rogers declined to discuss specifics, but the committee’s options include holding hearings, requesting a Government Accountability Office study, or even drafting legislation to amend federal acquisition regulations.
“JEDI was mired in lawsuits from the very beginning,” he said. “We need to take a long, hard look at the minimum threshold for a protest going forward.”
Two Years in Legal Limbo
For the Pentagon, high-performance computing is seen as foundational for advances in artificial intelligence and key to preserving the U.S. military’s technological advantage.
Even before the Pentagon awarded JEDI in October 2019, the $10 billion contract faced multiple bid protests by competitors
Shortly after losing out to Microsoft in its bid for JEDI,
Amazon stands by its legal challenge, claiming the contracting process that resulted in an award to Microsoft was not a fair one. The outcome “was not based on the merits of the proposals,” said spokesman Drew Herdener, but instead “the result of outside interference that has no place in government procurement.”
A New Beginning?
Immediately after announcing the JEDI cloud program had been terminated, Pentagon officials pivoted to finding its replacement. The DOD will split its enterprise computing needs between Microsoft and Amazon under a new program, dubbed the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC), said acting DOD chief information officer John Sherman.
The Pentagon’s decision to abandon JEDI’s winner-take-all approach in favor of a multivendor, multicloud strategy may prove the best way to jump-start its move to the cloud. But it’s not without its own risks, Langevin stressed.
“Without proper oversight and a design that prioritizes interoperability and security, we’re going to be stitching together a multivendor cloud that doesn’t meet the warfighters’ requirements and is vulnerable to our adversaries,” he said.
Having determined that Microsoft and Amazon are the only two cloud companies capable of meeting the Pentagon’s cloud needs, officials will essentially hand over contracts without an upfront competition. The department aims to hold a competitive rebidding process in early 2025, Sherman said. Meanwhile, Pentagon officials will spend the next three months conducting market research to determine whether other major U.S. cloud companies — Oracle, IBM, and
Despite his concerns with JEDI, Langevin said he remains confident in the Pentagon’s ability to acquire the cloud capabilities it needs through competitive processes. “This is a desperately needed capability that we can’t continue to delay,” he said.