Esper Puts JEDI Contract on Hold for Review

By Frank R. Konkel and Patrick Tucker

August 1, 2019

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.

Related: Pentagon Aims to Award JEDI Cloud Contract in August

Related: Court Clears Pentagon to Award JEDI Lawsuit

Related: After Trump Weighs In on JEDI, GOP Lawmakers Say Keep Out of It

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

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By Frank R. Konkel and Patrick Tucker // Frank Konkel is Nextgov’s executive editor. He writes about the intersection of government and technology. Frank began covering tech in 2013 upon moving to the Washington, D.C. area after getting his start in journalism working at local and state issues at daily newspapers in his home state of Michigan. Frank was born and raised on a dairy farm and graduated from Michigan State University. // Patrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One. He’s also the author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? (Current, 2014). Previously, Tucker was deputy editor for The Futurist for nine years. Tucker has written about emerging technology in Slate, The Sun, MIT Technology Review, Wilson Quarterly, The American Legion Magazine, BBC News Magazine, Utne Reader, and elsewhere.

August 1, 2019