Deasy puts a pause on JEDI to make sure contract is clear to industry

The Defense Department's chief information officer says cloud adoption is too important to mess up.

In the three weeks since the Defense Department reassigned the management of its cloud computing initiative to its new chief information officer, at least one thing has become clear: figuring out the next steps in the Pentagon’s JEDI Cloud contract is going to take some time.

Dana Deasy, the new CIO, said Wednesday that he has ordered a “full top down, bottom up” review of the cloud contract.

“Enterprise cloud will lay the foundation for so many future warfighter capabilities,” Deasy said  at the Defense Systems Summit in Arlington, Virginia. “I have directed my staff to ensure we provide clear messaging from the department on our cloud adoption strategy and the transparency on our approach with both industry as well as Congress.”

Deasy added that when the  final JEDI request for proposals is released he is confident the requirements will be clear and will get the full attention of industry.

“Since arriving, I’ve said, ‘everybody pause,'” he said. “This is not about making a certain date to get a  request for proposals out. This is about making sure release an RFP that is truly comprehensive, it is clear, is written in a way that will maximize responses and, frankly, is written in a way that truly represents what any smart, intelligent company in private industry would do in seeking to put an enterprise cloud in place.”

Deasy said DoD is not far off from an RFP, but would not commit to a specific date. Previously, the department’s schedule anticipated that a final solicitation would be released by May and that it would select a single vendor to handle the multi-billion dollar contract by the end of September.

The department, he added, is committed to implementing a “multi-cloud, multi-vendor” solution to its cloud computing needs over time.

“We operate with multiple clouds today,” Deasy said. “But our cloud capability is disparate and disjointed. We don’t have the true enterprise cloud that will deliver the efficiencies of scale the department needs. We need to address this smartly and with pace.”

Deasy did not address any changes the department might make to its previously-announced acquisition strategy for JEDI. Until late June, the procurement had been overseen by the Cloud Executive Steering Group (CESG) Deputy Defense secretary Patrick Shanahan appointed last September, and led by the Defense Digital Service.

The procurement strategy to date has been plagued by uncertainty over how large or how long the contract would be, and by industry complaints that the single-award contract the Pentagon had planned would create a winner-take-all arrangement for Amazon, Microsoft or another large vendor.

Deasy seemed to signal a change in the way the Pentagon will handle JEDI from here on out.

The strategy “will allow us to be flexible in deciding where to place workloads and the continuous continuity of all those workloads,” he said. “We need to have a consistent infrastructure for managing both classified and unclassified data. We need to be able to scale infrastructure as a service and platform as a service. It needs to have common governance, rules of the road and robust security and it needs to be platform that encourages an enterprise approach to developing cloud aware applications.”

The Pentagon announced on June 25 that Deasy had taken responsibility for its “cloud initiative,” and clarified a week later that his specific charge included the management of the JEDI contract.

“As a part of designating CIO as lead for cloud, the department is reviewing existing governance structures and reporting chains and will take deliberate steps to realign authorities as necessary,” Heather Babb, a Defense spokeswoman said in a statement. “This process is expected to occur over the coming weeks.”

DoD still has not decided the fate of the Cloud Executive Steering Group.

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