Womack renews objections to JEDI cloud

key in cloud (Blackboard/ 

At a May 1 funding hearing, Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) told the acting defense secretary that he wants the Pentagon to consider multicloud options for the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure program.

"Why does your department continue with what I believe to be an ill-conceived strategy on a single … vendor JEDI cloud program?" Womack asked acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan at an Appropriations subcommittee hearing. "There has been a down select to two organizations. That in my strong opinion continues a disturbing pattern of limiting competition on a program that is … potentially, extremely expensive."

After an internal conflict of interest probe, the Defense Department recently announced that Amazon Web Services and Microsoft are the finalists for the massive cloud infrastructure contract. The probe occurred as an outgrowth of a lawsuit against the JEDI program brought by vendor Oracle. That lawsuit was paused is still ongoing.

In response, Shanahan downplayed JEDI, saying it is one project amid a much larger push to modernize defense technology -- a push that includes multiple cloud programs.

"Across the department there is a proliferation in terms of implementing clouds. Everyone was moving to the cloud," Shanahan said. "The JEDI competition is about creating a pathway so that we can move as a department on a small scale. This isn't wholesale. It sometimes gets advertised as this is winner-take-all. This is winner-take-all for a very small subset of the amount of cloud infrastructure we are going to have to build out over time."

This isn't the first time Womack has aimed barbs at the DOD's controversial $10 billion cloud program. In October 2018, Womack joined fellow appropriator Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) in a letter urging an inspector general probe into the procurement, alleging that the security requirements seemed tailor-made to support one vendor -- Amazon Web Services.

Womack noted in the hearing that the intelligence community recently issued a solicitation that included plans to move to a more diverse cloud environment.

"It is clear that multivendor cloud environments are widely used … by large organizations for a simple reason. They increase competition. They improve security and capability and they provide cost savings. And in an environment like we're in right now, I would assume that would be a key issue for a Department of Defense," Womack said.

About the Authors

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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