Pentagon Watchdog to Conduct Probe into High-Stakes JEDI Program ‘Expeditiously’

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The Pentagon inspector general said Tuesday it would conduct its investigation into the Department of Defense’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program “expeditiously” and consider releasing the results.

“Our review is ongoing and our team is making substantial progress. We recognize the importance and time sensitive nature of the issues, and we intend to complete our review as expeditiously as possible,” spokeswoman Dwrena Allen said in a statement.

She also offered additional details on the DOD IG’s investigation.

“We are reviewing the DoD’s handing of the JEDI cloud acquisition, including the development of requirements and the request for proposal process. In addition, we are investigating whether current or former DoD officials committed misconduct relating to the JEDI acquisition, such as whether any had any conflicts of interest related to their involvement in the acquisition process,” she said.

Allen also said the office of the inspector general intends to write a report on their findings and would notify Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Pentagon leaders of them as well as inform Congress per standard protocols.

“We will also consider publicly releasing the results, consistent with our standard processes,” she added.

It is uncommon for the Pentagon inspector general to acknowledge an ongoing investigation, let alone give details, but the subject has come under a high amount of scrutiny after members of Congress and President Donald Trump criticized the program.

The JEDI program calls for a giant data cloud to be created for the Pentagon to migrate data onto, in order to combine information at a scale and speed it can take better advantage of.

For example, reams of video from the battlefield could be uploaded, analyzed, and fed back to the warfighter or autonomous machines for better, faster decision-making.

However, the program has drawn controversy over program officials’ solicitation to contractors to create the cloud and suspected favoritism towards Amazon.

The program would choose only one contractor, at a potential profit of $10 billion over ten years. Program officials argue that the award would only initially last for two years. However, there would be three option periods for one to two years each that could total up to ten years for $10 billion total.

Amazon’s competitors have argued that Pentagon officials were unfairly biased towards Amazon from the beginning and point to ties between Amazon and some former employees. In October 2018, two members of Congress, Reps. Steve Womack (R-AR) and Tom Cole (R-OK) requested the Pentagon watchdog investigate the program.

Last month, Trump told reporters he was getting “tremendous complaints about the contract.”

“They’re saying it wasn’t competitively bid. This is going on for a long time — I guess, probably, before this administration. And we’re looking at it very seriously. It’s a very big contract. One of the biggest ever given having to do with the cloud and having to do with a lot of other things,” he said.

“And we’re getting tremendous, really, complaints from other companies and from great companies,” he added. “So we’re going to take a look at it. We’ll take a very strong look at it.”

Esper said shortly after those comments that he would review the program, and Pentagon officials said last week that he would be fully briefed on the program before any decisions are made.

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