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JEDI, Why “Disinformation” and Protest Culture Need to Stop

By John B. Wood •  September 5, 2019

In my last JEDI blog post, I wrote about how important the DoD’s broader enterprise cloud effort is to America’s warfighters. JEDI is the first, single cloud step in this enterprise-wide cloud process, but it has been the subject of repetitious misinformation and protests over its now 19-month (and still running) course.

Now this lengthy timeframe and the obstructionist stall tactics JEDI has met with are certainly confusing, especially considering that another DoD enterprise-wide, single-award cloud contract, DEOS, was awarded to General Dynamics IT just 7 months after it was put out for bids.

That’s the way it should be. So why isn’t that happening for JEDI?

Well that brings us right into the misinformation, sourced and created by legacy IT interests, surrounding JEDI. Actually, these members of the “Old Guard” know that what they are saying isn’t true, so it’s accurate to say that they are intentionally spreading “disinformation.”

DoD politely calls it in their recently released Enterprise Cloud Fact Sheet, “myths and misinformation” and it has been plaguing the JEDI contract, detrimentally affecting the procurement process and the warfighters who need these vital cloud capabilities now. I think the fact sheet does an excellent job of dispelling these “myths,” but I’ll address a few all-too-common ones.

First off, DoD is not just committing to a single cloud. A single award, single cloud is the right first step in developing an enterprise cloud infrastructure.

Look at the Intelligence Community (IC). The CIA’s Commercial Cloud Services (C2S) effort started out as a single cloud, enabling the agency a faster learning process and allowing them to figure out what was (or wasn’t) working. Only through this single cloud process was the CIA ultimately able to make a move to a multi-cloud environment.

In the fact sheet, DoD confirmed its awareness of the strategy’s benefits, stating that JEDI “builds upon the lessons learned in the Intelligence Community,” and that the single award, single cloud approach is just the beginning of DoD’s Cloud Strategy, which “reflects a multi-vendor, multi-cloud ecosystem.” JEDI’s critics conveniently overlook and omit this fact when they claim the contract will lock DoD into a single cloud service provider for the next decade.

On a related note, a common false claim is that JEDI is a single-award, 10-year, $10 billion contract. When really JEDI’s guaranteed minimum, as has been repeatedly stated by the Pentagon, is for a 2-year, $1M contract, with optional re-up periods that add up to 10 years.

Another claim is that DoD unfairly restricted the competition to pre-selected companies. To meet the vital security needs of DoD and best protect our warfighters, this competition required strict qualifications. You don’t want less qualified bidders doing work on something this critical, you want the companies with the best technologies.

We’ve seen the house that lowest-price, technically acceptable (LPTA) built, and which Congress has now thankfully taken steps to ensure does not apply to important technology acquisitions. We don’t want to continue that mindset on an enterprise solution that directly affects the well-being of our warfighters.

The JEDI contract has those specific and stringent requirements for valid national security reasons. And part of the evaluation process is looking at how bidders have devoted time to R&D, best practices, and customer use cases.

Of the two finalists, one – Amazon Web Services – was the early pioneer in the cloud, investing time and money in research and development (R&D) to develop their product, and successfully partnered with the IC starting in 2013 as its cloud solution provider.

The other finalist – Microsoft’s Azure Cloud – met DoD’s requirements, prior to the bid deadline, for classified cloud offerings that will enable it to deliver secret and top secret services to DoD.

These two companies met the Pentagon’s technical criteria and became finalists for JEDI.

The naysayers who didn’t make the cut, because they didn’t have the required capabilities and couldn’t compete, have resorted to what I referenced in my last blog post as guerilla warfare tactics in an effort to blow up the JEDI award process. After being deemed “non-competitive,” they are slamming the finalists with smear campaigns, lodging complaints and protests, and creating conspiracy theories in a last-ditch attempt to halt a contract too advanced for their companies and products.

This protest culture, both for JEDI and other critical programs, needs to stop as it unnecessarily extends the acquisition process, making timely government and agency procurement of emerging, innovative technologies impossible. Think about it: you wouldn’t use antiquated technology to get the job done. Wouldn’t you want our government using the best, most advanced technologies available?

John B. Wood

John B. Wood

John B. Wood is the chairman and CEO of Telos Corporation. Follow him on Twitter: @john_b_wood See full bio...

Telos CEO John Wood blogs about business, education, and the values that guide us.

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