A Department of Defense investigator for the first time this week publicly acknowledged the details of a probe into the Pentagon’s $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract.
The Office of the Inspector General is not only investigating possible conflicts of interest, as the Pentagon has admitted before, but it’s also looking into the acquisition process and requirements, according to Dwrena Allen, a spokeswoman for the watchdog office. The matters were referred to the OIG by lawmakers and through the Department of Defense Hotline, she said.
The office has “assembled a multidisciplinary team of auditors, investigators, and attorneys” to review “the DoD’s handling of the JEDI cloud acquisition, including the development of requirements and the request for proposal process,” Allen said in an emailed statement. “In addition, we are investigating whether current or former DoD officials committed misconduct relating to the JEDI acquisition, such as whether any had any conflicts of interest related to their involvement in the acquisition process.”
Prior to this, the IG hadn’t commented on the investigation.
Allen said there’s no specific timeline for the investigation, but added that the “review is ongoing and our team is making substantial progress. We recognize the importance and time-sensitive nature of the issues, and we intend to complete our review as expeditiously as possible.”
At its conclusion, the office will issue a report on the investigation’s findings to Secretary Mark Esper and other DOD leaders, as well as members of Congress, and consider publicly releasing the report.
In parallel, Esper is conducting his own review of the JEDI acquisition. Pentagon CIO Dana Deasy said last week his office is working to “educate” the secretary to help him “fully comprehend the overall JEDI program.” The acquisition won’t move forward until Esper gives it his blessing. But in the meantime, Deasy said, his office will move forward with the technical evaluation of bids.
The IG isn’t the first body to review the alleged conflicts of interest around the contract. JEDI’s lead contracting officer has looked into it, determining there were no conflicts of interest in the development of the JEDI acquisition strategy involving former DOD officials and Amazon Web Services, which stands with Microsoft as the only remaining firms qualified to win JEDI.
The Court of Federal Claims supported this finding, denying Oracle’s pre-award bid protest of the JEDI contract, which challenged not only the potential for conflicts of interest but also the legality of JEDI’s single-award acquisition strategy. The court ruled the justification for a single award is “flawed,” but stopped short of forbidding the Pentagon from moving forward with the procurement.