DOD says JEDI strategy coming May 7

At a Senate hearing, top Defense officials told lawmakers that a justification for the Pentagon's cloud procurement strategy called for in a recent spending bill will be submitted before the final request for proposals hits the street.

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Defense Department officials told Senate lawmakers April 27 that DOD's justification for making the $10 billion JEDI cloud contract a single award before they release a final solicitation.

When Congress passed the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill, they included a requirement that DOD submit reports explaining why a single award is the best approach for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract.

Under questioning at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Defense Secretary James Mattis defended the single award approach.

"There are too many data banks that front line commanders cannot draw from," Mattis said. "What we are looking at right now is how do we get faster access for all the young folks on the front lines to the information they need."

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) asked: "Are you going to be able to submit the justification before or after the RFP?"

DOD Chief Financial Officer David Norquist replied that the reports would be submitted on May 7 and that will be before the final request for proposals is released later in the month.

According to the timeline set by Congress, the reports were not due until May 24.

The Defense Department has released two draft RFPs for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract but those documents have done little to persuade many in industry that a single award is the best approach. And Congress has heard that complaint.

"Frankly, people are speculating that this is tailor-made for a single vendor," Heinrich said. "I ask you to assure me that those comments are not justified."

Mattis repeated that the goal is the best service for the troops on the frontline.

"There are some in industry who think this should be an equal opportunity type of thing where everyone gets a piece of the pie," he said. "We have to go forward in a defensible way where you can go to your constituents and say you have done the right thing ethically and legally."

Defense officials have maintained that the final RFP will be out in early May (apparently after May 7) and that an award will be made in September.

This article was originally published in FCW's sibling publication Washington Technology.