The Pentagon’s internal watchdog has announced it is investigating alleged misconduct during the allocation of the Department of Defence (DoD) $10bn Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing contract.
The contract has faced significant stumbling blocks since Amazon and Microsoft were shortlisted, with legal challenges from earlier bidder Oracle and the new Secretary of Defence Mark Esper announcing he would review the contract upon taking office.
This means the contract is now being reviewed by two separate offices within the DoD. A spokesperson for the DoD Office of the Inspector General said: “We are reviewing the DoD’s handing of the JEDI cloud acquisition, including the development of requirements and the request for proposal process.”
The Inspector General’s investigation into the contract has been ongoing for some time, looking into the programme even before President Donald Trump repeated ideas that the contract was designed for Amazon to win.
Amazon was expected to win the contract due to its development and support of a similar cloud-based system developed for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
The spokesperson added that the review “is ongoing and our team is making substantial progress. We recognise the importance and time-sensitive nature of the issues, and we intend to complete our review as expeditiously as possible.”
At a press round-table on the JEDI programme, DoD chief information officer Dana Deasy commented on the two concurrent investigations, saying: “They [Inspector General’s office, I.G.] need to complete their process. But if we get to the point where we do not have an I.G. report, before we would issue any final award, we will obviously have a conversation with the I.G.
We will consult with them and in having that consultation, decide if there’s anything that they’re sharing with us that would give us reason to pause before it can continue on with award.”
Despite the reviews into the programme, Deasy stressed that “the continuation of the JEDI evaluation work has not been paused”.
Deasy added that the evaluation was still a few weeks away with a decision to be announced “not earlier than August”. The contract was originally set to be awarded by the end of this month.
Oracle’s legal challenge was dismissed in federal court. Oracle highlighted the close relationship between the Pentagon and Amazon employees as a source of potential misconduct. Oracle reportedly also circulated a document in Washington alleging a conspiracy to award Amazon the contract.
The Pentagon has repeatedly called for reviews into the programme to be wrapped up as quickly as possible, with Deasy saying: “This is an imperative [JEDI] to what they [war fighters] need each and every day to defend and execute their missions.”
The Pentagon released a fact sheet on 8 August detailing responses to criticism of the programme. The report reads: “There are only a handful of companies in the world that can provide general-purpose cloud capabilities on the scale required for the Department of Defense.
“Independent research performed by Gartner confirms there are only five non-Chinese companies seriously competing in the hyper-scale cloud marketplace. Four of the five companies participated in the JEDI competition. Two companies were determined competitive during the contracting process.”
There is currently no time-frame for the two reviews into JEDI to be concluded.