The Defense Department’s process of selecting a contractor for its $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud project continues to be contentious.
JEDI will oversee the Pentagon’s cloud computing assets. Two issues have roiled the planning: Dissatisfaction by vendors with the technical approach being taken by the Defense Department, and if Pentagon personnel moves represent a conflict of interest.
In early December, Oracle filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. A report in The Wall Street Journal says the lawsuit states that the bidding process is unfairly weighted toward Amazon Web Services (AWS).
The technical objection is that the JEDI contract relies on one vendor for a 10-year period. Critics say this flies in the face of diversification best practices and runs counter to government regulations.
Last November, the General Accounting Office said that a bid protest filed by Oracle contesting the JEDI request for proposals (RFPs) had been denied. A similar protest by IBM was denied on December 11, because “the matter involved is currently pending before a court of competent jurisdiction.” This referred to the Oracle lawsuit.
The WSJ story also notes that the Defense Department is considering a possible conflict of interest. That conflict involves a Pentagon employee – Deap Ubhi – who was hired by AWS and later returned to the Pentagon. The report states that the Pentagon found that Ubhi had recused himself from JEDI work while at the Pentagon and that no conflict of interest occurred. However, the story says that the issue and perhaps others are being looked at further.
AWS in December became a defendant in the suit. While the complaint is sealed, RegMedia posted what it says is a redacted version of AWS’ response to Oracle’s motion to expand both the administrative record and discovery. The AWS filing, which was made on January 18, says that Oracle asked for the court to produce eight “broad categories of materials,” admit certain materials into the record, and permit “third-party discovery and depositions” concerning two former government officers.
AWS asked the court to deny the motion. It claims that the issues raised by Oracle already has been decided. “For each of these decisions, the administrative record already includes the contemporaneous, documented determinations from the responsible agency decision-makers.”
The response also says that the five cases of people with potential financial or impartiality conflicts were identified by the government. “Two of those instances concerned former government officials Deap Ubhi and Anthony DeMartino, neither of whose involvement with the JEDI Cloud procurement (to the extent that they were involved) the contracting officer found to negatively impact the integrity of the acquisition,” the filing reads. The three other issues were not mentioned. Ubhi and DeMartino likely are the ex-officers Oracle wants to depose.
The JEDI contract award is expected in the spring. An AWS public affairs official said that the company had no comment. Oracle did not respond to emails seeking comment.