DOD releases $10 billion JEDI cloud contract

Despite objections from industry, the Pentagon is sticking to the single-award plan for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure program.

The Defense Department has released the long-awaited final proposal for its $10 billion warfighter cloud acquisition, Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure program.

Despite objections from industry, the Pentagon is sticking to the single award plan for the contract.

In a statement accompanying the solicitation, project lead Dana Deasy, the DOD's CIO, called JEDI, "an initiative that will revolutionize how we fight and win wars."

The JEDI cloud is being designed speed the flow of data and analysis to combat troops.

"In the absence of modern services, warfighters and leaders are forced to choose between foregoing capabilities or slogging through a lengthy acquisition, rollout, and provisioning process," the statement of work included in the July 26 solicitation stated. "A fragmented and largely on premises computing and storage solution forces the warfighter into tedious data and application management processes, compromising their ability to rapidly access, manipulate, and analyze data at the homefront and tactical edge."

Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, signed off on the determination to make JEDI a single-award procurement.

"JEDI Cloud is an acquisition for foundational commercial cloud technologies that will enable warfighters to better execute a mission that is increasingly dependent on the exploitation of information," she wrote.

The contract has a $10 billion ceiling and covers 10 years with options. It launches with a two-year base ordering period, followed by two three-year option periods and a final two-year option period.

The final proposal includes several changes from previous drafts: a modified option structure, updated pricing, more flexible small business evaluation criteria, clarified security requirements with an option to receive official security documents (after signing a non-disclosure agreement) and the option for bidders to present questions in person.

Most requirements must be met post-award. For example, bidders aren’t required to have accredited classified cloud environments when submitting a proposal but be able to meet the objectives statement and cybersecurity standards within 30 days of award for unclassified services, 180 days for secret level and 270 days for top secret level data.

The classification standards appear designed to assuage potential competitors who fear that the JEDI project is being designed with Amazon Web Services in mind. As the contractor for the CIA's $600 million on-premise cloud, Amazon is far ahead of the rest of industry when it comes to hosting classified data.

Despite these assurances, vendor protests appear likely.

"This continues to be a wired specification," John Weiler, executive director of the IT Acquisition Advisory Council. "No other vendor can meet this combination of requirements and Amazon knows it." Weiler said he would "not be surprised" by pre-award protests from multiple cloud providers.

Congress has also been skeptical of the acquisition’s purpose and effects, stipulating a mandatory review of the cloud program and details on how it will impact existing cloud programs, such as MilCloud 2.0, in the final conference report for the 2019 defense spending bill. DOD submitted a review report to Congress in May.

DOD said it received more than 1,500 responses to the draft proposals. The deadline for proposals is Sept. 17, and comments are due by Aug. 16.