Cutting corners: Earlier this year, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) canceled the JEDI contract, which had been awarded to Microsoft more than two years ago and was worth around $10 billion over ten years. The cancellation was due to several factors ranging from evolving technical requirements to a seemingly endless cycle of award protests by Microsoft’s competitors. The department quickly followed the cancellation with an updated multi-vendor initiative designed to meet their technical needs while expanding the pool of potential cloud providers.
A new multibillion dollar solicitation for the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) was formally sent to several major cloud providers on Friday. The solicitation was sent to AWS, Microsoft, Google, and Oracle following DoD’s previous assessments of multiple cloud service providers and their technical ability to meet the new procurement’s requirements.
The JWCC contract is aimed at providing cloud services similar to those in the previous JEDI contract as well as new capabilities identified since the award’s cancelation. The new program also intends to cover other next generation programs such as the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and the Artificial Intelligence and Data Acceleration (ADA) initiatives.
A solicitation release doesn’t mean the government is ready to write big checks to these cloud providers quite yet. Recipients must provide targeted proposal responses to the JWCC solicitation request. Once submitted, those responses will be evaluated by DoD procurement and legal teams using a formal, structured review process to determine which vendor(s) are best positioned to provide the requested services.
All proposals are evaluated against the same criteria to identify vendors with the highest probability of success, lowest possible risk, and most realistic cost estimates. This is one scenario where a cheaper offer does not necessarily mean a better offer.
The resulting contract will be awarded to successful cloud providers under an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract.
An IDIQ contract means the successful vendors can supply an indefinite quantity of products or services (as requested by the government) over a fixed period of time. The award itself does not guarantee work or funding to a vendor, but rather serves as a hunting license giving the pre-qualified recipient the ability to provide services for any work issued under that IDIQ contract.
While the JWCC solicitation may be a “return of the JEDI” scenario attempting to obtain cloud support under a new name, there is no guarantee that the procurement won’t experience the same types of protest delays that plagued the previous JEDI effort. DoD’s goal is to negotiate any IDIQ awards with qualified vendors by the third quarter of 2022. But when billions of dollars are on the line, you can bet there is no such thing as a gracious loser. Just ask Amazon.