The Department of Defense in charging ahead with its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud program, despite the latest round of criticism and a congressional roadblock to its funding.
DoD officials overseeing JEDI’s development and execution continue to take heat from industry, former officials, Congress and other stakeholders. But besides an extension of a deadline for bids from Sept. 17 to Oct. 9, leaders remain steadfast in plans for a single-award contract projected to be worth some $10 billion.
That’s not stemming a tide of demands for more information, including from Congress. In the $674 billion defense appropriations bill agreed upon Sept. 13, lawmakers including a restriction on JEDI funding until 90 days after Pentagon officials submit a plan to account for cloud services and a strategy for incorporating multiple-award prospects.
The lack of strategy is a chief concern about JEDI, second only to the single-award approach that industry leaders almost uniformly denounce as antithetical to best practice.
“You need to know where you’re going, then you can have some view of how to make the trade-offs. I don’t think DoD has adequately described where they’re going,” said John Stenbit, former assistant secretary of defense for command, control, communications and intelligence.
“What’s the test we’re doing to do in the end, where if it passes I’ll pay them and if it doesn’t pass I won’t pay them? It’s a good question to ask.”
Stenbit spoke as part of a panel at the Hudson Institute in Washington on Sept. 14.
“A roadmap has become a practice that gives DoD and Congress a long-term perspective of how a particular suite of programs or capabilities are going to be managed,” said William Schneider, Hudson senior fellow.
“For example, [DoD has] a roadmap for procuring unmanned systems between 2018 to 2042.”
According to Schneider, Pentagon leadership does have some sort of roadmap for JEDI, though it hasn’t been released. But he said there are clues that hint at least a little at the way forward.
“Because they talk about maintaining a fierce competition for these services, I deduce from that they have some plan to expand the scope of cloud providers from what might initially be a relatively small set of large firms that are capable of responding to the RFP to a process yet to be described about the how the larger cloud service industry will be integrated into the DoD concept of procurement,” he said.
Schneider told reporters Aug. 30 that the absence of a roadmap has “animated anxieties about what is going to be the future of this market.”
“DoD says they want to take advantage of the commercial model, but the absence of a roadmap has made it difficult to persuade the Hill, who tend to be the biggest advocates for competitive sourcing,” he said.
At press time, Pentagon officials had not responded to a request for more information on a roadmap.