DOD Official Says It Won't Halt Other Cloud Contracts Because of JEDI

Ellen Lord meets the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 during the International Air Show in the Dubai World Center in November.

Ellen Lord meets the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 during the International Air Show in the Dubai World Center in November. Alexander A. Ventura II/U.S. Navy

The Defense Department pushed back against rumors that its JEDI cloud acquisition would stifle its other cloud contracts.

The Defense Department’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud acquisition will not become the only cloud military and defense agencies have to choose from, according to one of the Defense Department’s top acquisition officials.

Speaking Friday at a roundtable with reporters at the Pentagon, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord said the Defense Department will continue to use multiple cloud contracts, addressing rumors that it might halt or cancel today’s existing cloud contracts once JEDI is awarded.

“The department has multiple cloud contracts and we will continue to have multiple cloud contracts,” said Lord, responding to a question from a Bloomberg reporter. “We are working with a variety of companies. We want to leverage the entire industrial base. So there is ample opportunity for everyone to play throughout the department.”

Lord, who once chaired the Cloud Executive Steering Committee leading the JEDI cloud effort, added that she saw “no focus towards one company whatsoever” in regards to a question about whether the JEDI procurement favored Amazon Web Services. AWS, which holds a lucrative cloud contract with the CIA, is widely seen as a favorite to win JEDI, which will be a single-award contract to one cloud service provider. Industry has been critical of the Defense Department’s decision to award the contract to a single vendor and an acquisition process that some feel favors AWS.

“I can’t control rumors, but I can control what we do here in the department,” Lord said. “And I would tell you this is a fair and open competition.”

Lord’s remarks come on the heels of testimony from Defense Secretary James Mattis in which he denied the JEDI procurement was tailored to AWS. Mattis, who in a 2017 road trip met with heads of tech companies, including Google and Amazon, told the House Armed Services Committee the contract is necessary to keep the department’s technological edge on adversaries.

“The movement to the cloud is to enhance the availability of the information among us right now,” Mattis said. “We have to also quickly advance our security. We have over 400 different basic data centers that we have to protect. We have watched very closely what CIA got in terms of security and service from their movement to the cloud.”

Mattis said JEDI was a “fair and open competition for anyone who wants to enter,” and clarified that the initial JEDI contract will be for two years, not 10, referring to press reports the contract would be a decade long.

According to the draft request for proposal, the JEDI contract’s period of performance is structured as “one continuous two-year base period,” with one five-year option and another three-year option, “for a potential total of 10 years.”

Marcus Weisgerber and Aaron Boyd contributed to this article.