DOD CIO gets a seat at the table on Pentagon's cloud team

Acquisition chief Ellen Lord has been replaced as the chair of the group overseeing the massive cloud initiative known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure.

The Defense Department has revamped the group overseeing its massive cloud initiative known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI.

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan issued a memo Jan. 4 that revealed Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord had been replaced as chair of the Cloud Executive Steering Group by Jay Gibson, deputy chief management officer. Gibson was not part of the group originally.

Lord is the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. Her office will continue to support the cloud effort, according to Shanahan’s memo.

JEDI is DOD's initiative to accelerate the movement to the cloud by fielding a commercial cloud solution that can host unclassified, secret and top secret information. DOD wants to take advantage of emerging technologies such as machine learning, big data analytics and artificial intelligence to deliver more capabilities to warfighters.

Lord's comments on the project the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, Calif. in early Dec. 2017 sparked concern in industry that DOD was rushing into a single-source option for cloud. Since then, DOD officials have said the final strategy had not yet been determined.

Shanahan says in his Jan. 4 memo that Defense Digital Service Director Chris Lynch will manage the JEDI competition, but does not specify whether it will result in a single- or multiple-award contract.

In addition to Gibson, Shanahan also added new members to the Cloud Executive Steering Group in Essye Miller, acting DOD CIO and Bob Daigle, director of DOD’s office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation.

The addition of Miller is noteworthy because initially the CIO role in the group was advisory and non-voting. That advisory role, formerly held by John Bergin, business technology officer in the DOD CIO's office, has been eliminated.

The new members join Lynch; Will Roper, director of DOD’s Strategic Capabilities Office and the nominee to lead acquisition at the U.S. Air Force; Raj Shah, managing partner of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental; and Joshua Marcuse of DOD staff.

Given the scope of DOD wants, many are estimating that the contract would be worth billions.

The Pentagon did not respond to a request for comment on why Lord and Bergin were no longer part of the Cloud Executive Steering Group.

Still absent from the group are direct representatives from the mission owners who will be using the cloud infrastructure to host their applications.

David McAllister of the Strategic Capabilities Office would lead the effort to "transition select DOD components or agency systems to the acquired commercial cloud solution."

The expectation is that DOD will hold an industry day and release a draft request for proposals during the first quarter of 2018.

A version of this article originally appeared in Defense Systems' sibling publication Washington Technology.

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