It’s unclear whether the new defense secretary's review will affect the contract’s timeline.
The Defense Department’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract is on hold and under the personal review of Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
“Secretary Esper is committed to ensuring our warfighters have the best capabilities, including Artificial Intelligence, to remain the most lethal force in the world, while safeguarding taxpayer dollars,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith in a statement to reporters Thursday. “Keeping his promise to members of Congress and the American public, Secretary Esper is looking at the [JEDI] program. No decision will be made on the program until he has completed his examination.”
In late July, Esper told reporters the JEDI contract was “one of the things I want to take a hard look at.”
Defense officials had targeted late August for an award date as officials compare bids from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. Through JEDI, the Pentagon aims to put a single provider in charge of developing its war cloud, which would connect its thousands of disparate IT systems across all classification levels and provide superior communication to warfighters.
Esper’s review is the latest potential pitfall for JEDI.
The acquisition has survived two bid protests—filed by rival bidders IBM and Oracle—and a six-month federal lawsuit, also filed by Oracle. It’s also attracted the attention of select Republican lawmakers and President Trump, who in July said he would “look into” JEDI after hearing “tremendous complaints” from companies, including Microsoft, Oracle and IBM.