Pentagon Shuffles Cloud Steering Committee

Ivan Cholakov/

The group shaping the department's cloud strategy gets a new chair and new faces.

Shortly after Pentagon officials signaled a potential change in its strategy to procuring an enterprisewide cloud computing platform, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced a shakeup in the body developing it.

In a Jan. 4 memo, Shanahan restructured the Cloud Executive Steering Group, including changing the group’s chair.

Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Ellen Lord will be replaced as chair by Deputy Chief Management Officer Jay Gibson, who joins Defense’s Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation Director Bob Daigle and Essye Miller, acting Chief Information Office, as new CESG members. The other four voting members are Defense Digital Service Director Chris Lynch, Strategic Capabilities Office Director Will Roper, managing partner of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental Raj Shah and Defense staff member Joshua Marcuse.

Pentagon spokesperson Patrick Evans said the cloud steering group is “executing and evolving in the midst of the significant reorganization” of the department's acquisition office, the creation of the chief management officer position and other Defense reforms.

“The CESG memo update is reflective of these organizational changes,” Evans said. “As the Department's analysis and market research process continues, the JEDI Cloud path forward will continue to evolve and mature as appropriate.”

Lord made what became heavily scrutinized statements at the Reagan Defense Forum on Dec. 3—suggesting the Pentagon was moving to “one cloud”—and subsequently ordered Defense officials not to talk publicly about the cloud strategy.

Shanahan’s memo outlines the next steps for the CESG, which will occur in two phases.

Lynch will oversee phase one, a “full and open competition to acquire a modern enterprise cloud services solution that can support unclassified, secret and top secret information.”

Phase two involves moving “select components or agency systems to the acquired commercial cloud solution” and will be led by Strategic Capabilities Office program manager David McAllister. Shanahan added that the department wants to “operationalize the mission using the security, software and machine learning capabilities that cloud technology provides.”

The CESG was originally tasked to accelerate cloud adoption across the department and an initial draft of its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI strategy, called for a 10-year, single-award contract some experts estimate could be worth billions. Last week, however, Pentagon spokesperson Patrick Evans told Nextgov the strategy was “evolving” and didn’t rule out the possibility of awarding multiple cloud contracts.

The JEDI strategy "is one of many draft documents used to spark discussion and debate in this ever-evolving review process,” Evans said. “But the bottom line is this: The CESG is still in the analysis and fact-finding phase of this process to determine how many contracts will best meet DOD's needs.”

The department plans to host an industry day regarding its cloud strategy but a date has not yet been set.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comments from the Pentagon.