$10B JEDI cloud contract on hold for SecDef review

Newly appointed Defense Secretary Mark Esper said via spokesperson that "no award will be made on the program" until he's reviewed it.

DOD cloud
 

The Defense Department will not award a JEDI cloud contract until Defense Secretary Mark Esper reviews the program.

"Keeping his promise to Members of Congress and the American public, Secretary Esper is looking at the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program," said Elissa Smith, a Defense Department spokeswoman, via email statement. "No decision will be made on the program until he has completed his examination."

The controversial cloud deal was slated for an award as soon as late August. JEDI has faced intensifying scrutiny since the start of the solicitation process and has already survived legal battles and pre-award protests.

Amazon Web Services and Microsoft are vying for the approximately $10 billion contract that DOD hopes to leverage to speed its modernization efforts, namely artificial intelligence.

Cloud provider Oracle sued DOD, claiming conflicts of interest between interested vendors and DOD employees overseeing the over the procurement process and favoritism towards Amazon.

In a previous statement, DOD's Smith characterized some of these claims as "poorly-informed and often manipulative speculation."

Esper first announced his intent to examine the JEDI deal at a July 24 news conference.

"I've heard from everybody about the … JEDI contract, and that's one of the things I want to take a hard look at," Esper said.

The comments followed those from President Donald Trump, who said he'd received "tremendous complaints" over the contract. Several House Republicans then soon issued a letter urging the president not to interfere with the process.

DOD CIO Dana Deasy previously told reporters that any delay in JEDI would jeopardize the department's mission.

"There are active sets of programs that the combatant commands are depending on when that contract gets released," Deasy said at the time, noting that U.S. Transportation Command is "actively developing a set of next-generation applications" for JEDI.

"If JEDI was to get further delayed, guess what happens? Now you're back to the model where people need to go build their own cloud solutions," he said at the time. "That does not serve the Department of Defense well; it does not serve the warfighter well."

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