GAO Highlights Need for Improved Management Controls to Sustain NNSA Microelectronics Activities
Update on the JEDI Cloud Award
In 2017, Secretary of Defense, retired General Jim Mattis, took a trip to the West Coast of the United States. Highlights of the trip included a visit to Amazon’s campus, a stop at Google, and even a tour of an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine based out of Naval Base Kitsap. The submarine tour in Mattis’s home state of Washington, however, was almost certainly not the purpose of the visit.
Fast forward to October 2019, and Microsoft was awarded a 10-year contract, valued at up to 10 billion dollars for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, appropriately abbreviated JEDI after the force sensitive object moving mind reading freedom fighters of the Star Wars universe. The goal of JEDI is a revamped centralized enterprise unified cloud computing approach for the entire Department of Defense. This will replace the factionalized approach within DOD towards cloud computing. Various DOD divisions have been pursuing their own cloud initiatives for years.
JEDI will be used for everything from DOD payroll and human resource functions to artificial intelligence and machine learning defenses. JEDI needs to be modular, agile, and secure.
The JEDI solicitation was issued on July 26, 2019. The contract was issued to Microsoft in October 2019. In November 2019, shortly after the contract was awarded, Amazon challenged the awarding of the contract to Microsoft in the Court of Federal Claims. As of June 2020, the case is still pending. In February 2020, a Federal Judge granted a preliminary injunction to stay the JEDI program pending the outcome of Amazon’s lawsuit. While the lawsuit is making its way through the judicial process JEDI is effectively on hold.
The JEDI contract was awarded based on nine factors ranked from most to least important by the DOD as follows:
Factor 2 (Logical Isolation and Access Controls)
Factor 3 (Tactical Edge)
Factor 4 (Information Security and Access Controls)
Factor 5 (Application and Data Hosting and Portability)
Factor 8 (Demonstration)
Factor 6 (Management and TO 001)
Factor 7 (Small Business Participation Approach)
Factor 9 (Price)
The ninth factor of price was not considered, unless offers were equal in terms of technical capacity or where the price was so high as to degrade the technical superiority of the offer. Factors 2-6 and factor 8 were assigned technical ratings on a five-point scale from unacceptable to marginal to acceptable, good, and outstanding. Factors 2-8 were then assigned risk ratings on a four-point scale ranging from unacceptable to high risk to moderate to low risk. Factor 7 was then assigned a rating on a five-point scale ranging from unacceptable to marginal to acceptable to good and outstanding.
The court based likelihood of success on the merits (one of the factors plaintiff needed to satisfy in order to be granted a preliminary injunction) on factor 5. Specifically, the court stated that ‘“[Amazon Web Services (“AWS”)] alleges that [Microsoft’s] Price Scenario 6 proposal fails to comply with the requirement that storage be “highly-accessible,” a term defined as “online and replicated storage.” Had the DOD properly evaluated [Microsoft’s] proposal of storage in Price Scenario 6, according to [Amazon], the DOD would have concluded that the proposal was “noncompliant,” and “should have found [Microsoft’s] technical approach unfeasible, assigned a deficiency, and eliminated [Microsoft] from the competition.”’
DOD estimates that another solicitation may be necessary and that a decision should be rendered by August 17, 2020.