House appropriators seek IG probe of JEDI

Two senior Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee want the Pentagon's internal watchdog to open an investigation into the agency's ongoing $10 billion cloud procurement.

The Pentagon (Photo by Ivan Cholakov / Shutterstock)

Two senior Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee want the Pentagon's internal watchdog to open an investigation into Department of Defense's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud procurement.

Reps. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) expressed concern about requirements in the $10 billion JEDI solicitation that "seem to be tailored to one specific contractor." In an Oct. 23 letter to Glenn A. Fine, the acting inspector general at the Department of Defense, the pair of lawmakers cited the requirement that the JEDI awardee be able to meet impact level 6 security requirements as spelled out by the Defense Information Systems Agency. The letter was first reported on by Politico.

"Currently, this unnecessary requirement, along with many others, can only be met by one specific contractor," they wrote.

The contractor in question is Amazon Web Services, which has been cleared to host data up to the TS/SCI level, through its work as the cloud provider of choice for the intelligence community. Microsoft recently announced plans to have Azure cloud regions enabled for level 6 workloads in the first quarter of 2019, which would keep the company in the running for the JEDI project, given the timelines specified in the final request for proposal.

The lawmakers note that despite report language in two consecutive defense appropriations bills, the Pentagon "has not provided any adequate explanation as to why they insist on a contract structure that has been widely criticized by Congress and industry."

These objections were succinctly summarized by Sam Gordy, general manager of IBM federal in an Oct. 10 blog post. "No business in the world would build a cloud the way JEDI would and then lock in to it for a decade," he wrote. "JEDI turns its back on the preferences of Congress and the administration, is a bad use of taxpayer dollars and was written with just one company in mind."

In addition, Cole and Womack called out media reports detailing "significant connections" between DOD personnel charged with developing the JEDI requirements and "the specific contractor."

One industry source told FCW that the DOD IG has received at least three other requests for probes into the JEDI solicitation. A spokesperson for the IG said, "We received the letter and are reviewing the request."

The JEDI solicitation is also coming under fire from Oracle and IBM, who are protesting the solicitation with the Government Accountability Office. A decision from GAO on Oracle's protest is expected no later than Nov. 14. IBM's protest is expected to be decided by Jan. 18, 2019.

Bids were due from vendors to the Pentagon Oct. 12. An award decision is expected early in 2019, assuming that neither pre-award bid protest scuttles the plan.