DOD prevails in JEDI case; award can proceed
- By Adam Mazmanian
- Jul 12, 2019
A federal judge rejected complaints by Oracle that conflict of interest and unfair requirements warranted a rebid of the $10 billion, 10-year Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract.
Judge Eric G. Bruggink of the Court of Federal Claims ruled that the gate criteria in the JEDI solicitation were enforceable and that the Defense Department was within its rights to exclude Oracle from the competition in a down-selection process that left Amazon Web Services and Microsoft as the only remaining bidders.
Bruggink also ruled that the findings of a Defense Department contracting officer denying any organizational conflict of interest related to links between some individuals who worked on the JEDI solicitation and AWS "were not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law."
An opinion in the case is forthcoming.
The ruling sets the stage for DOD to make an award in the long-running procurement, designed to deliver cloud and data to troops in combat and across the defense enterprise. Characterized by defense officials as "warfighter cloud," the idea behind JEDI is to give combat troops at the edge access to the wealth of intelligence data and communications connectivity and support the use of artificial intelligence across DOD.
"As data increases in size and complexity, our current compartmentalized management of data is untenable to assist our warfighters at the speed of relevance," Lt. Gen. Bradford Shwedo, the CIO for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated in a June court filing. "JEDI Cloud is critical to safeguarding our technological advantage against those that seek to harm our nation."
However, Oracle and IBM protested the procurement even before initial bids were due because of what they saw as unnecessarily restrictive requirements both in terms of cloud security and capacity. Oracle sued in the Court of Federal Claims seeking a new solicitation. It alleged that several individuals at DOD involved in writing the JEDI requirements were compromised by longstanding ties to Amazon Web Services, seen as a likely winner of the contract. Oracle also objected to the single-award nature of the solicitation, arguing that the size and scope of the work as well as cloud computing best practices argued for a multiaward approach.
AWS was added to the case as a defendant alongside the Department of Defense.
"Despite the many attempts by others to distract and delay, today's ruling reaffirms what we've said all along, that Oracle's claims were meritless and a desperate attempt to distort the facts," an AWS spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
Oracle didn't comment directly on the ruling, but said in an emailed statement that "Oracle's cloud infrastructure 2.0 provides significant performance and security capabilities over legacy cloud providers. We look forward to working with the Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community, and other public sector agencies to deploy modern, secure hyperscale cloud solutions that meet their needs."
The procurement has drawn opposition from Capitol Hill as well. In a June 11 letter, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) urged National Security Advisor John Bolton to "direct the delay of an award" to allow for more competition. Rubio also advocated a multicloud approach. "Using multiple cloud providers also increases redundancy and resilience so that there is no risk of a single point of failure for DoD technology systems," Rubio wrote.
Rubio also said he was writing to Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper to raise concerns about potential conflict of interest in the procurement.
DOD CIO Dana Deasy has said an award in JEDI is expected in August. Deasy has already instructed defense agencies to identify applications for hosting on the JEDI cloud.
As expected, DOD was pleased with the decision
"This reaffirms the DOD's position: the JEDI Cloud procurement process has been conducted as a fair, full and open competition, which the contracting officer and her team executed in compliance with the law. DOD has an urgent need to get these critical capabilities in place to support the warfighter and we have multiple military services and Combatant Commands waiting on the availability of JEDI. Our focus continues to be on finalizing the award decision," DOD spokesperson Elissa Smith said.
This article was updated with statements from Oracle and Amazon Web Services and the Department of Defense.
FCW staff writer Lauren C. Williams contributed reporting to this article.
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.