Pentagon Suspends Cloud Contract to Investigate Potential Amazon Favoritism

Credit: ShutterstockCredit: ShutterstockU.S. President Donald Trump last month said that he was considering looking into the Pentagon's contract for a cloud service provider, claiming he had received more complaints about the contract than anything else. This week it's been reported that Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who got his job at the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) less than two weeks ago, will review accusations of unfairness related to the JEDI contract selection process, as reported by Politico.

At the time, Trump said complaints claimed the contract "wasn't competitively bid." 

"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," Elissa Smith, a spokesperson for the DOD, said in a statement on Thursday about why the awarding of the JEDI winner contract will be suspended.

"Keeping his promise to Members of Congress and the American public, Secretary Esper is looking at the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program. No decision will be made on the program until he has completed his examination."

The review is expected to delay the assignation of the single winner for the $10 billion JEDI contract. The Pentagon had expected to award the contract by the end of August.

Amazon Favored?

According to Politico, Amazon’s competitors have taken issue with former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis meeting privately with Amazon’s high-ranking employees, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in 2017.

In a statement Thursday, IBM said it "has long raised serious concerns about the structure of the JEDI procurement.” It also believes that the military would be best served by a multi-cloud strategy.

Oracle is a former participant in the JEDI selection competition and has criticized the selection process the most. The company has lobbied both members of Congress and the President in an attempt to convince them that the DOD JEDI competition has been unfair. The vendor also filed a complaint with the General Accountability Office (GAO) and sued the Pentagon. However, both the GAO and the court found that the procurement process has been fair. According to Politico, Trump watched a briefing slide from Oracle's biggest lobbyist that claimed Amazon was favored in the selection process. 

JEDI Criticism

The JEDI contract’s biggest criticism by far has been the fact that it will award such a significant amount of money to one contract only. Many, including most of the companies that were part of the bidding process, have vocalized against the idea of the Pentagon depending on a single contractor. 

The Pentagon says its approach is meant to reduce complexity. However, there are questions around why the Pentagon would need so much integration. After all, does the deployed army really need to access the very same tools that the Pentagon’s office administration staff, for example, needs? Having services and tools highly segregated and isolated from each other could be beneficial from a security standpoint too. 

3 comments
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  • blazorthon
    "Security" and "cloud computing" are mutually exclusive. Anything the military wants secure should never be near anything that touches private cloud servers. Just in the last week, there have been reports of two massive breaches of security made possible because of supposedly secure data being on cloud servers. If you store data on somebody else's system, it is NEVER secure, nor is it even entirely yours! If the data you want to store isn't sensitive and doesn't need high security, that might be fine.

    Anything the military is storing could be considered sensitive, even if only because you could track ongoing/completed but still classified operations through the time stamps of otherwise innocuous data, just as one possible example. Then again, the modern, most ass-kicking military in the world can't be bothered to properly maintain all ships and train all personnel to avoid things like naval ships ramming other ships, killing some sailors in the process, so why would they care about the small issue of data security?
  • bit_user
    Quote:
    "Security" and "cloud computing" are mutually exclusive. Anything the military wants secure should never be near anything that touches private cloud servers.

    Maybe they will be segregated.

    I'm not convinced the military's own servers would be much more secure.

    What I find most troubling about the military using cloud computing is the idea of possibly relying on the internet for anything mission-critical.

    Quote:
    Then again, the modern, most ass-kicking military in the world can't be bothered to properly maintain all ships and train all personnel to avoid things like naval ships ramming other ships, killing some sailors in the process,

    That was caused mostly by overwork and sleep deprivation.
  • derekullo
    Darth Donald: I see through the lies of the JEDI. I do not fear the dark side as you do. I have brought peace, freedom, justice, and security to my new empire.