Defense

Republicans urge Trump not to interfere with JEDI cloud buy

President Donald Trump listening at press conference SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 (Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock.com)

Top defense committee Republicans penned a letter to President Donald Trump July 18, saying any “unnecessary delay” to the Defense Department's $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud acquisition would endanger national security.

“We believe that is essential for our national security to move forward as quickly as possible with the award and implementation of this contract,” the lawmakers wrote. “Moving to the cloud will help DOD operate faster, more efficiently, and compete with adversaries.”

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, which helped keep an eye on the cloud buy, joined Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Michael Turner (R-Ohio), and Robert Wittman (R-Va.) in the letter. Stefanik is the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee's Emerging Threats, Capabilities, and Intelligence Subcommittee.

The letter comes after Trump commented to reporters July 18 on the “tremendous” number of complaints he’s received from Hill Republicans and tech companies, such as Microsoft, IBM and Oracle, about the JEDI contract, Bloomberg reported. Trump, who said he was looking “very seriously” at the contract also indicated that he would ask the Defense Department to “look into” it.

DOD has already conducted an internal investigation into potential improprieties with the buy and concluded, as did a federal judge, that there weren’t any. Additionally, the Armed Services Committee has been tracking the procurement process, which the members pointed out in their letter.

“Our committee has conducted oversight of this contract from the beginning,” the members wrote. “While it is understandable that some of the companies competing for the contract are disappointed at not being selected as one of the finalists, further unnecessary delay will only damage our security and increase the costs of the contract.”

An award for the JEDI contract is expected in August. Microsoft and Amazon Web Services are the final contestants. Amazon recently retained a Trump campaign lobbyist to represent it as controversy around the award ramps up, CNBC reported. While the contract has survived pre-award protests and a lawsuit, there could also be post-award challenges. Moreover, the president has the authority to cancel it altogether.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW 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 lwilliams@fcw.com, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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