In the wake of an ethics investigation, Pentagon officials have selected two cloud service providers to move forward as potential candidates in the Department of Defense’s $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative cloud services contract.

The selection of those providers, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, came after an Oracle lawsuit challenging the legality of the JEDI contract process was put on hold in February to allow DoD to investigate previously unknown information about conflicts of interest.

“The department's investigation has determined that there is no adverse impact on the integrity of the acquisition process,” DoD spokesperson Elissa Smith in a statement.

“However, the investigation also uncovered potential ethical violations, which have been further referred to DoD [inspector general]. There are two different components of the investigation. First, DoD investigated potential conflicts of interest as they relate to the acquisition process. This portion of the investigation determined that there are no conflicts of interest that affected the integrity of the acquisition process. However, there may be potential ethical violations, which have been referred to DoD IG for further investigation.”

AWS and Microsoft were the only two providers to meet the minimum technical requirements of the request for proposals, as Smith confirmed that the “competitive range determination” that selected the two included all companies that met those requirements.

Critics have said that the JEDI contract is effectively tailored for an AWS award, as few other companies are large enough or have the necessary security authorizations to meet the Pentagon’s needs.

At the beginning of the JEDI process, many companies and experts questioned why the contract had to be awarded to a single provider, rather than a group of providers that could collectively meet the requirements. But Pentagon officials have said that a single provider would best meet the needs of the war fighter.

The court-ordered stay has not yet been lifted, but Smith said that the DoD is in the process of asking the court to lift the stay while proposal considerations are still ongoing.

“The stay precludes concluding the protest, not moving forward in the RFP process. Therefore, the department has identified the companies within the competitive range, and those companies have been notified,” said Smith.

Due to the complicated nature of the contract itself and the still-ongoing litigation, Smith said that the earliest an award could be announced for JEDI would be mid-July of this year.

Though certainly the largest, JEDI is not the only major cloud contract out of DoD.

According to the official DoD Cloud Strategy, various fit-for-purpose clouds, which cover a narrower and more tailored area of need, will also be central to the Pentagon’s IT environment.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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