The replacement of the Pentagon’s highly litigated $10 billion JEDI contract with a tentative arrangement for Microsoft and Amazon to provide cloud computing services could spark new lawsuits over a perceived lack of competition.
Although the new Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability deal that replaces the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure acquisition is a multiaward contract, the U.S. Department of Defense indicated it expects to award deals only to JEDI awardee Microsoft Corp. and Amazon Web Services Inc.
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[H]aving at least two vendors will likely “make it a little bit easier” for the DOD to successfully argue that it has appropriately considered the full cloud market to determine who meets its needs, PilieroMazza PLLC associate Lauren Brier said.
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The JWCC’s requirements are not yet fully set, and one way to avoid protests is to simply open up the contract to more vendors, allowing them to compete for task orders, as is common in other large federal IT contracts, said Charles Tiefer, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law.
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Additionally, having a variety of vendors helps to reduce vulnerabilities to cybersecurity breaches, according to Brier.
“I remember a big concern [with JEDI] was with data breaches,” she said. “If you’re limiting the contract to just one company, you’re basically asking for it to be hacked, right? If the contract was diversified and included more contractors, then the hacking vulnerabilities are reduced.”
But the prospect of bid protests alleging the JWCC is unfairly restrictive may not be enough to motivate the DOD to open up the deal to a wider variety of vendors. Those sorts of disputes are far more common than the unusual circumstances that led to the protracted protests over JEDI and turned that deal into a political issue, Brier said.
Excerpt taken from the article “DOD’s Preference For Microsoft, Amazon May Haunt New JEDI” by Daniel Wilson for Law360. Visit this link for the full article (subscription required).
If you have questions about the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability contract, please contact Lauren Brier or a member of PilieroMazza’s Government Contracts Group.