In second draft, DOD stands firmly by single award for JEDI cloud contract

Sgt. Victor Sanchez, a fire direction coordinator assigned to Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 258th Artillery Regiment, 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the New York Army National Guard, operates an advanced field artillery tactical data system to calculate aiming data to relay to the howitzer teams during an air assault artillery raid on Fort Drum, N.Y. on June 9, 2017. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexander Rector)

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Despite numerous questions and comments pushing for the Department of Defense to reconsider its decision to award a single contract for its forthcoming landmark commercial cloud acquisition, it appears the department isn’t budging.

The DOD team leading the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud procurement released the second draft of its working request for proposals Monday. And while the contract was amended in a few places to reflect the more than 1,000 comments and concerns of interested vendors received after release of the first RFP, the single-award acquisition strategy remains.

The decision to award a single contract has drawn ire from all around the government cloud industry and largely driven the conversation concerning JEDI since its inception. The questions and comments attached to the new release of the RFP largely reflect industry’s refusal to accept that a single award would be in the best interest of the DOD as it could handcuff the department to a single cloud provider for up to 10 years, limiting innovation and a failsafe in the event of an outage.

In many cases, the team’s response was: “Your comment has been noted. The requirement remains as stated.”

And many respondents asked for the written justification for a single-award contract, which is required by federal acquisition law, to be made public. But DOD won’t indulge them “at this time.”

However, another frequent answer about teaming and subcontracting leaves the door open for vendors to get creative despite there being one award up for grabs. Asked if cloud service providers can partner together under a single prime contractor or some similar arrangement, the department responded, “Offerors may propose any kind of teaming/partnering arrangement so long as the proposed solution meets the requirements of the solicitation.”

So where does that leave us? Not much appears to have changed in general in the second draft, which will be the last prior to the launch of the final RFP sometime in May. “This second draft release substantially reflects the Department’s anticipated requirements to be ultimately conveyed in the final JEDI Cloud RFP,” Lt. Col. Kaight Meyers, JEDI program manager, wrote in a letter accompanying the new draft.

Perhaps the most meaningful clarification comes in the DOD’s vision for JEDI versus its existing cloud contracts. “As stated during industry day, JEDI Cloud is only the initial step to provide the underlying foundational technologies requires to maximize the capabilities of weapon systems, business systems,  and data-drive decision-making for the military. JEDI Cloud is intended to be available enterprise-wide and complementary to other existing cloud initiatives. It will not preclude the release of future contracting actions.”

There’s also still no specific price estimate for the contract, which is expected to be in the multibillion-dollar range.

DOD invites industry to continue to ask questions and give feedback until the comment period closes April 30.

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Cloud, Defense Department, Department of Defense, DOD, JEDI, Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, Kaight Meyers, Pentagon