Pentagon Targets August for JEDI Award

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The Defense Department is making its source selection “disconnected” from Oracle’s pending court case.

The Defense Department plans to award its high-profile Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract to either Amazon Web Services or Microsoft by late August, according to Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy.

Deasy, speaking with reporters Tuesday in Washington, said the Pentagon’s acquisition professionals are in the process of comparing the bids for the $10 billion contract independent of the legal case Oracle brought in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims against the Defense Department in late 2018.

Senior Judge Eric Bruggink has scheduled oral arguments in that case, in which Oracle alleges the Pentagon erred in its decision to award JEDI to a single company and also alleges a series of conflicts of interests between persons tied to the contract, in early July. Further, Bruggink ordered the Pentagon not to award the contract before July 19.

“Right now, they are two disconnected events,” Deasy said. “We have a hearing that’ll take place during July and we have a source selection process that we’ll complete toward the end of August.”

Deasy added that the court’s decision won’t affect how the Defense Department narrows down the source selection process.

Meanwhile, Deasy said the Pentagon has directed component agencies to begin thinking about what applications make sense to migrate to JEDI after it comes online. While the most important part of JEDI—the commercial cloud partner that will stand it up—remains unknown, Deasy likened his recent memo to “starting an awareness campaign,” encouraging defense agencies to “start thinking about the fact that we’ll have this cloud coming online.”

Once JEDI is awarded, Deasy said the Defense Department won’t wait around for defense agencies to migrate data and applications to it. Instead, Deasy hinted the Pentagon may force branches and defense agencies to migrate to JEDI, which will immediately become one of the Defense Department’s most important common platforms.

“You’ve heard of ‘Built it and they shall come,’ this is not the case here,” Deasy said. “The services are starting to see great value in using common platforms, of which JEDI is just one. We will look at existing clouds out there already, under existing contracts, and look at the nature of when those clouds roll off and reevaluate.”

Deasy said there are “an active set” of important Defense Department programs, including the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, waiting to maximize their capabilities through the use of an enterprise cloud offering. Should JEDI be delayed beyond the expected August award, either through the pending court case or by other means, Deasy said troops at home and abroad will be negatively impacted. Deasy’s remarks echo concerns made in March by Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, who heads the JAIC. Shanahan said the Defense Department could not realize “true impact at sale with artificial intelligence without an enterprise cloud solution.”

“My biggest concern—if you asked what is keeping me awake at night—is if JEDI was to get further delayed,” Deasy said. “Guess what happens?”

A delayed JEDI award, Deasy added, would be a “sad outcome at this point.” He said such a delay may tilt the Defense Department back to a model where individual programs build out cloud solutions with less oversight, security or integration and communication with other departments, which Deasy said “does not serve the Defense Department’s mission” or warfighters well.