House threatens DOD funding for JEDI commercial cloud in 2019 NDAA draft

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry questions Secretary of Defense Ash Carter during a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee on fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Department of Defense in Washington D.C., March 22, 2016. (DOD photo / Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)

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House lawmakers are threatening to cut funding for the Defense Department’s landmark move to commercial cloud until it delivers a report to Congress explaining, among other things, its decision to pursue a single-award strategy for the acquisition.

The House Armed Services Committee wants to block half of any fiscal 2019 funding for the 10-year, multibillion-dollar Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure commercial cloud acquisition until the committee receives a report from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis explaining the reasoning behind the acquisition.

In a draft of the House version of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act published Monday by Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the committee asks for Mattis to detail how the “approved” single-award acquisition strategy for JEDI “provides for a full and open competition, enables the Department of Defense to continuously leverage and acquire new cloud computing capabilities, maintains the ability of the Department to leverage other cloud computing vendor products and services, incorporates elements to maintain security, and provides for the best performance, cost, and schedule to meet the cloud architecture and services requirements of the Department for the duration of such contract.”

The Pentagon’s decision to issue a single award for the commercial cloud acquisition has drawn ire from cloud contractors who worry the acquisition would handcuff DOD to a single cloud provider for the next decade. Despite receiving dozens of comments asking the Pentagon to rethink the strategy, the department maintained last month in the second draft of its request for proposals that there will be a single award.

In the NDAA draft, the committee also asks Mattis to include information on:

  • The makeup, mission, objectives, goals and strategy of DOD’s Cloud Executive Steering Group, which developed the JEDI cloud program.
  • “[T]he characteristics and considerations for accelerating the cloud architecture and services required for a global, resilient, and secure information environment to enable warfighting and mission command, as validated by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure.”
  • Estimated migration costs and timelines.
  • The makeup of the JEDI program office, including overhead cost and organizational structure.
  • The relationship JEDI will have with existing DOD cloud efforts — specifically MilCloud 2.0 — and how the new acquisition will affect them.
  • The Pentagon’s Cloud Computing Strategy and any plans to update it, as well as any other relevant cloud and acquisition guidance.

This isn’t Congress’ first try to push for answers from the Pentagon around the JEDI contract. As part of the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act signed into law in March to fund the government through September, Mattis is similarly required to provide a report to committees about the vision for JEDI, including a “justification, to include cost considerations, for executing a single award contract rather than creating an infrastructure capable of storing and sharing data across multiple cloud computing service providers concurrently, to include data migration and middleware costs.” That report is due by May 22.

Industry is also eager to see what the Pentagon has to say. The IT Alliance for Public Sector sent a letter last week to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Armed Services committees asking them to make public any DOD reports examining the JEDI acquisition process.

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Cloud, Defense Department, DOD, House Armed Services Committee, JEDI, Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, Mac Thornberry, NDAA, Pentagon