On Cloud Computing Contract, No JEDI Contract Tricks

Pentagon undersecretary denies Amazon has a leg up

The head of the Pentagon's top research section says the United States is competitive when it comes to artificial intelligence research and development. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
The head of the Pentagon's top research section says the United States is competitive when it comes to artificial intelligence research and development. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted April 16, 2018 at 1:15pm

With up to $10 billion at stake, industry watchers are paying close attention to the Pentagon’s cloud computing contract, which is expected to be awarded by the end of the year.

Given Amazon’s cloud computing expertise, some have speculated that the contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, is theirs to lose, President Donald Trump’s distaste for the company notwithstanding.

Asked Friday about persistent chatter regarding Amazon’s supposed leg up on its competition, Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord denied that the JEDI contract award was a done deal.

“I can’t control rumors, but I can control what we do here in the department, and I will tell you this is a fair and open competition,” the undersecretary said.

The Pentagon has multiple cloud contracts, and works with a variety of companies, she said. “We want to leverage the entire industrial base, so there is ample opportunity for everybody to play throughout the department. I see no focus toward one company whatsoever.”

It’s worth noting that Google is also considering going after the JEDI contract — but on the hush, to try to avoid an employee revolt — according to a report this week by Defense One. Google employees let management know they weren’t enamored about working for the military industrial complex.