New proof of conflict of interest in JEDI contract "Breaking Defense

DoD chart

Department of Defense Strategy for Transition to Cloud Computing. Note the leading role of the JEDI project.

WASHINGTON The massive, complex $ 10 billion cloud deal the Pentagon is seeking faces another problem. The DoD revealed Tuesday that it has obtained "new information" indicating potential conflicts of interest in the context of the competition, already widely criticized for its preference for Amazon Web Services.

Elissa Smith, Pentagon spokeswoman, confirmed Brittle defense that "new information not previously provided to the Department of Defense regarding potential conflicts of interest has emerged" and, as a result of this new information, "the Department of Defense continues to investigate these potential conflicts".

Last year, Oracle and IBM both filed pre-award claims against the JEDI Cloud solicitation, but the Government Accountability Office rejected both claims in November and December respectively.

Photo of blue origin

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon

Oracle then brought an action in federal court alleging that the Pentagon's plan to award a sole-source contract was illegal. In rejecting the company's previous complaint, GAO supported "The Pentagon's decision to follow a single award approach to obtain these cloud services is in accordance with applicable laws (and regulations), as the agency reasonably determined that such an approach was in place. Government interest for various reasons, including national security, as permitted by law. "

The Department of Defense's clean cloud strategy says repeatedly that the Pentagon does not have the expertise to implement large-scale cloud services and needs to rely on a unique Private Sector Partner, at least "in the beginning": "The Department has never built or implemented a corporate cloud solution and therefore recognizes the importance of finding a business partner to help start the process …. The scale of the effort needed The general-purpose cloud, on the scale and complexity of the department, is at best served by a single provider that will allow the DoD to maximize the pace and minimize the risks. "

But not everyone is convinced. Last year, two members of the Commons House Defense Subcommittee called the Pentagon Inspector General to investigate the $ 10 billion Joint Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract. Lawmakers Tom Cole and Steve Womack sent the DoD a letter criticizing the government's requirements for the "adapt to a specific subcontractor" program, namely Amazon Web Services.

Although Amazon is not mentioned in the letter, the company has long been regarded as the vanguard of the long-term contract after the release of Google's Alphabet.

Oracle's lawsuit in the Court of Federal Claims has accused the DoD Cloud Management Group of adhering to the single-sourcing approach from the very beginning. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan signed a memorandum preparing the group in September 2017.

Oracle also accused Deap Ubhi, a former DoD employee, a member of the Digital Defense Service, of playing a "personal and substantial" role in early planning for JEDI. Ubhi worked at Amazon Web Services before working at the Pentagon and has since returned to the company after leaving the Pentagon. Defense Digital Service, but this certainly complicates the traditionally rigid separation of the DoD between officials and contractors. It is unclear whether the Pentagon's new discoveries involve Ubhi or other officials.

Sydney Freedberg also contributed to this article.

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