DOD's latest cloud moves leave plenty of questions

Speculation is still swirling about the implications of the draft solicitation for JEDI -- and about why a separate agreement for cloud-migration services was scaled back so dramatically.

DOD cloud

The Department of Defense answered several important questions about its commercial cloud strategy on March 7, but the industry day and draft solicitation for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud acquisition raised a few new ones.

DOD officials confirmed that they intend to make a single award, and set an aggressive timeline to finalize that award by the end of the fiscal year. Both points have prompted some grumbling from the industry.

The Coalition for Government Procurement, an association that represents much of the federal IT contractor community, posted a critique that said a single award, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract "is being proffered notwithstanding the fact that there exists a statutory and regulatory preference for multiple award IDIQs."

"A single-award contract vehicle creates the ultimate barrier to entry for … the very capabilities DOD needs to maintain the technological advantage necessary to defend this nation," the coalition argued.

IBM General Manager for Federal Sam Gordy was similarly critical. “The Pentagon would never limit the Air Force to flying only cargo planes for every mission," Gordy told Washington Technology, an FCW sister publication. "Locking the entire U.S. military into a single, restrictive cloud environment would be equally flawed.”

"I think what you're seeing in industry is a lot of head-scratching," Oracle Senior Vice President Ken Glueck told FCW. "This seems to be moving in a technical direction that is not reflective of the way the private sector is consuming scalable, secure cloud."

Amazon Web Services, the firm seen by many as a leading contender for the JEDI award, sidestepped the single-award question. “We are confident commercial cloud will drive innovation," an AWS spokesperson said. "As we have always said, an open and competitive bidding process allows for the customer to thoroughly analyze the various providers and select the solutions that best meet their needs."

The Coalition for Government Procurement noted that the Federal Acquisition Regulation "requires DOD to document its decision/rationale for a single award," and urged DOD to make that documentation public. While no such document has yet been shared, DOD officials were frank in explaining why they've been unmoved by the multiple-award argument over the last few months.

"The lack of standardization and interoperability today creates pretty significant barriers to accessing our data where and when it is needed," Defense Digital Service Deputy Director Tim Van Name told reporters on March 7. "We believe that a multiple-award cloud would exponentially increase the overall complexity. The systems in different clouds, even when designed to work together, would require complex integration, which raises the bar for the development, testing and ongoing maintenance."

"We’re confident that the single award is the best thing for the department," he said.

And while Van Name and other officials stressed that the team that wins the single award could be structured in any number of ways, the general reaction has been that the draft request for proposals points to an award centered on a single cloud service provider.

It would be possible for a systems integrator to be the prime, REAN Cloud Managing Partner Sekhar Puli told FCW, but "it's going to difficult" if DOD demands a single CSP. 

"What I’m reading makes me believe … that they’ll pick a single CSP" as the prime, Puli said in a March 9 interview. "But I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. Common sense doesn't always prevail."

What to make of the shrinking OTA

Puli was alluding to the week's other big cloud news from DOD -- a decision to dramatically lower the ceiling of an Other Transaction Authority agreement with his firm from $950 million to $65 million.

That five-year agreement, awarded in February by the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, originally allowed REAN to provide cloud migration services DOD-wide. On March 5, however, DOD told reporters it had "narrowly tailored" the deal to cover only U.S. Transportation Command, for whom REAN had done prototype work to win the award. 

As of late on March 9, Puli said, he still didn't know why the change has been made. "A couple of days ago we got a email that told us, 'your contract had been reduced,' but nothing more than that," he said.

Oracle filed a protest against the OTA award, but the Government Accountability Office has not yet ruled, and Puli dismissed the protest as "smoke and mirrors."

"There is something else that has caused this change, that unfortunately is not public," he said.

One longtime industry executive told FCW that while OTAs can be a valuable tool for newer technologies and services, DIUx's deal with REAN may simply have been too big and broad in scope to bypass the traditional acquisitions process. The fear now, he said, is that the controversy around this award could make it harder for agencies to use OTAs even on a smaller scale for legitimate purposes.

Puli pushed back on that argument, noting that another DIUx OTA for $750 million has so far gone unchallenged. "So is $750 million ok, and $950 million not?" he asked. "And if that’s the case, then fine — then why not take the contract down to 750? Or change [the other award] from 750 to $65 million as well?"

While REAN is obviously unhappy to lose the acquisition for working across DOD, Puli said, his real frustrations are two-fold.

First, he said, the OTA has been conflated with JEDI, and wrongly seen as a nod toward selecting Amazon as DOD's preferred CSP. REAN's award is "completely independent of JEDI," Puli stressed, and his firm works with Microsoft and Google as well as AWS. 

"We don’t want to be in just one cloud as a systems integrator," he said. "We are the movers. … Where you want to live is not a decision that we will make for you." 

And second, he said, announcing the change through the media was not only unpleasant, but unnecessary.

There's no requirement "saying you have to issue task orders for the full $950 million," Puli said. "They could have just squashed it behind the doors and said [to other DOD components], 'don’t issue any task orders.'"


X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.