Pentagon Puts JEDI Cloud Project On Hold After Trump Criticism

The US Defense Department has placed its JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) contract on hold, until Defense Secretary Mark Esper reviews the program.

It comes after President Donald Trump said last month that he is “looking very seriously” at the Pentagon cloud contract, and said that the military contract should be investigated.

Last month four republican members of the US Congress wrote to President Trump, asking him not to delay the JEDI cloud contract.

JEDI project

The JEDI contract is reported to be worth $10 billion (£7.6bn), but smaller cloud players such as Oracle and IBM have already been previously ruled out.

Google had also already pulled out of the bidding in part because the deal could go against principles it published in June last year, following staff protests against the company’s involvement in developing artificial intelligence for military drones.

The goal of the JEDI cloud deal, which could last up to 10 years, is ambitious.

Essentially, the Pentagon aims to create a single cloud architecture across all the military branches and combatant commands. The idea is to allow a seamless workflow and information-sharing environment.

But President Trump has previously said he said he would direct aides to investigate the pending military contract, saying he had heard multiple complaints about an allegedly unfair bidding process.

“I’m getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon. … They’re saying it wasn’t competitively bid,” Trump was previously quoted by the Washington Post as saying. “Some of the greatest companies in the world are complaining about it, having to do with Amazon and the Department of Defense, and I will be asking them to look at it very closely to see what’s going on.”

Microsoft and Amazon (AWS) are the only two remaining bidders for the contract, with Amazon widely being tipped to win. President Trump however is no fan of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and his newspaper the Washington Post.

Oracle Complaints

And Oracle has been very vocal in its concerns about the award process, and has asked about the role of a former Amazon employee who worked on the project at the Defense Department but who then recused himself.

This person then later left the Defense Department and returned to Amazon Web Services.

And Oracle earlier in July lost a lawsuit that challenged the award process. A judge reportedly ruled Oracle did not have standing to claim it was wronged by the decision because it did not meet the contract requirements.

The Pentagon has ruled that only Amazon and Microsoft meet the minimum requirements for the contract.

And now amid all this, the Pentagon has announced that it is placing the contract on hold.

“Keeping his promise to Members of Congress and the American public, Secretary Esper is looking at the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program,” Elissa Smith, a Defense Department spokeswoman told Reuters, via an emailed statement. “No decision will be made on the program until he has completed his examination.”

There is no word on when Esper will complete his examination of the project.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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