DoD expected to release third draft of JEDI cloud RFP this week

The Defense Department is calling a mulligan with its cloud contract known as JEDI, and is expected to release a new draft request for proposals this week, maybe as early as Thursday.

Multiple sources in and out of government confirmed to Federal News Radio that DoD Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy told the House and Senate Armed Services committees that the Pentagon expects to finalize the third draft solicitation for the multi-billion dollar Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract.

“We expect to release the RFP in the near future,” said Heather Babb, DoD spokeswoman. “As DOD Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy has said, release of the final JEDI RFP will not be a long way off.”

Deasy took control of JEDI earlier this month. He has told industry and Congress on a few occasions since he became DoD CIO in speeches or during testimony that based on his experience in the private sector the best way to get value out of moving to the cloud is to rewrite or re-engineer applications, which doesn’t necessarily jive with the Pentagon’s initial thinking with JEDI that it would be an infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service offering.

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Sources warned that the release of the new draft could be delayed as the acquisition continues to receive a lot of attention on Capitol Hill.

In the fiscal 2019 Defense Authorization bill, which House and Senate conferees agreed to on Monday, lawmakers gave DoD a long to-do list around JEDI and its move to the cloud more broadly.

At the heart of the provisions is a new report due to the House and Senate oversight committees detailing 11 areas, including acquisition strategy and relationship to the MilCloud 2.0 effort. The bill also limits DoD’s spending to 85 percent of the money it received for cloud until that report is sent to lawmakers.

“The conferees have long championed modernization of information technology throughout DoD agencies, services and other entities to facilitate efficiencies, cost-savings, enhance performance and to provide our warfighters with cutting-edge capabilities on and off the battlefield,” the joint statement states. “The conferees emphasize the importance of modernizing networks by adopting advancing commercial capabilities to achieve DoD’s cloud transition and enterprise efficiency goals. Further, the conferees believe that workload analysis is critical to understanding migration feasibility and costs. Especially where barriers stem from technical, intellectual property and data rights issues that are poorly understood, such barriers may fundamentally limit the potential utility of commercial cloud services to the department.”

The conferees say they continue to be concerned about how DoD is sharing information about its plans to move to the cloud.

While lawmakers say DoD’s communication has “slightly improved, it continues to be insufficient for conducting congressional oversight. The conferees expect the department to improve communication with Congress on this issue and will consider additional legislation if an improvement is not seen.”

Over the past few months, DoD officials tried to tamp down concerns about JEDI, saying it would only account for about 10-to-20 percent of all cloud procurements.

One industry source says the fact that DoD is releasing a third draft RFP seems to insinuate that JEDI is a totally new contract, and the old concept of a single award seems to be dead.

Another industry source said the decision to release a third draft RFP may mean lawmakers are more satisfied with DoD’s direction based on that additional communication the conferees referenced in the joint statement.

John Weiler, an outspoken critic of the current JEDI approach and the vice chairman of the IT Acquisition Advisory Council, said in an email to Federal News Radio that his organization will continue to promote commercial standards of practice around cloud and security as JEDI evolves.

“The body of evidence from Fortune 500 companies continue to point to multi-cloud strategies with almost none putting their mission critical programs into a public cloud due to many reasons,” Weiler said. “Given DoD’s lack of expertise in cloud sourcing, we hope Mr. Deasy embraces the work of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service to avoid past failure patterns in Defense IT acquisition.”