Court Clarifies Timeline in JEDI Case
Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith issued deadlines through December for the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract.
The Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud computing contract—won by Microsoft and legally challenged by Amazon Web Services—will be tied up in court for at least the next few months.
In an Oct. 13 filing, Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith clarified the court’s schedule through Dec. 1, beginning with an order directing the Defense Department to correctly supplement the court’s record with unredacted debriefing documents by Oct. 15. In the filing, the Campbell-Smith took issue with the department’s decision to file “heavily redacted” documents “despite being under seal.” The debriefing with AWS concluded on Oct. 9, more than a month after the Pentagon awarded Microsoft the contract.
“The court will not file redacted documents as part of the [administrative record] absent a sufficient explanation, and defendant’s motion does not offer any reason for the redaction,” Campbell-Smith said.
The judge further cemented other important deadlines. AWS must file its amended complaint by Oct. 23, and Microsoft and the Defense Department must file renewed motions to dismiss the case by Nov. 6. AWS must then file its response to those dismissal motions by Nov. 20, with responses from Microsoft and the Defense Department due by Dec. 1.
After that, the timeline gets murkier, though attorneys for Microsoft, AWS and DOD put forth an agreed potential schedule through February 2021. The case could be extended further if Campbell-Smith grants additional motions for discovery. JEDI remains under an injunction, so no work is permitted under the contract.
In any case, Campbell-Smith’s timeline confirms the JEDI contract saga will not be resolved before the Nov. 3 election. That introduces a new variable into the procurement’s equation, according to Stan Soloway, president and CEO of Celero Strategies and a former DOD acquisition official. A new administration might opt to scrap a procurement like JEDI, which is years behind schedule and hasn’t been implemented, in favor of a new idea.
“It's tough to say how likely such a shift is, but it wouldn't be shocking,” Soloway told Nextgov. “This is not just because the procurement has been so incredibly tortured. It could happen because the business case that originally underpinned it—a single cloud solution—has been largely overcome by events, especially the maturation of the cloud market, and the indications we've seen that some key DOD components are already moving in different directions and not planning to use it. “Taken together, it's not hard to see a change in direction. But again, whether that will happen is tough to estimate.”