White House opposes NDAA’s call to close DISA, supports oversight of JEDI cloud

The White House. (Diego Cambiaso / Flickr)

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The White House doesn’t like the idea of shuttering the Defense Information Systems Agency and moving Pentagon IT acquisition services to other Defense Department components, as was proposed in the House version of the fiscal 2019 authorization bill for the military.

In a Statement of Administration Policy on the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act issued by the Executive Office of the President on Tuesday evening, the White House pledged its support for keeping DISA as DOD’s centralized IT acquisition arm. Closing it and transferring its responsibilities elsewhere in the department, the document says, would “increase the cost of acquiring information technology, weaken the Department’s ability to secure its cyber networks, and inhibit DISA’s mission to provide seamless communication to warfighters and senior leaders.”

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, proposed a requirement in the House version of the upcoming NDAA that the Pentagon chief management officer to shutter DISA by 2021 as part of a measure to “promote efficiency and agility, reduce duplication and redundancy, and streamline bureaucracy across” the Defense Department’s 28 4th Estate support agencies. Thornberry is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, which writes the annual NDAA.

The White House, on the other hand, pledges in the memo to work with lawmakers in their oversight of DOD’s development of commercial cloud computing.

“The acceleration of cloud technologies is critical to developing technologies such
as artificial intelligence and machine learning,” it said. “In order to maintain our military advantage, the Administration will responsibly leverage foundational infrastructure and platform technologies from the commercial sector.”

The draft NDAA threatened to cut funding for the Defense Department’s landmark move to commercial cloud — the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure — until it delivered a report to Congress explaining, among other things, its decision to pursue a single-award strategy for the multi-billion-dollar acquisition. DOD last week sent over the requested report to Congress, in which it once again defended its highly criticized decision to eventually award a single contract for JEDI.

“The Administration looks forward to providing the information requested in section 1053 [which threatened DOD’s cloud funding] to both enable proper congressional oversight and prevent delays in the delivery of new capabilities to the warfighter,” the White House said.

The House is expected to consider the fiscal 2019 later this week.

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Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), House, JEDI, Mac Thornberry, NDAA, White House
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