The Department of Justice (DoJ) and Microsoft are arguing for a shorter duration of any further legal proceedings before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims over the Defense Department’s (DoD) Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud services contract it re-awarded to Microsoft last year.

The JEDI contract has been embroiled in legal proceedings since it was originally awarded in late 2019, when Amazon Web Services (AWS) protested the award. As a result of that protest, the court put a hold on contract work in February 2020. DoD re-awarded the contract to Microsoft in September 2020, but substantial work on the contract was still blocked.

The latest substantial court decision in the case came in April when the court rejected a motion filed by DoJ and Microsoft which had sought to dismiss AWS’ complaint that the Trump administration interfered with the award of the contract to Microsoft. DoD has consistently denied that any interference took place.

Earlier this year, DoD warned that it might abandon the JEDI contract altogether because of continuing delays due to legal issues. The Pentagon emphasized at that time that it still had urgent and unmet requirements for enterprise-wide, commercial cloud services, and remained committed to meeting that requirement “one way or another.”

What’s New

The latest news in the saga comes from a May 28 status report filed by parties in the case that informs the court they have reached no settlement of their disputes, and offers the parties’ views on what the court’s next steps should be.

Unsurprisingly, DoJ along with DoD and Microsoft argue for a shorter duration of further proceedings. DoJ set forth a variety of scenarios for the court to consider that could keep the proceedings active until October.

DoJ argued that “although doubtless some differences in position and circumstance will emerge in renewed briefing” before the court, “the parties have thoroughly and extensively briefed these matters before in this very case.”

Further, the government argues that timing is critical, saying “any benefit gained by taking additional time to rehash in detail issues that the parties have already explored in depth is greatly outweighed by the ongoing harm to national security or continued delay in fielding these critical capabilities.”

“The passage of over 18 months since this bid protest was filed serves to increase the urgency of expeditious resolution now, not reduce it,” the government said, adding, “as we have consistently described throughout this litigation, continued delay significantly harms critical national security interests.”

“A Joint Status Report, like the one filed on May 28, is a standard filing in any litigation,” a DoD spokesman said today.

“The filing merely reflects the proposed schedule for further proceedings in the case, as directed by the Court’s April 28, 2021 Order. Nothing about this procedural filing changes our previous statements regarding our commitment to establish an enterprise cloud capability for the Department – we hope through JEDI – but the DoD’s requirements transcend any one procurement,” the spokesman said.

Much Effort, Little Payoff

In total, the Pentagon has been waiting for nearly three years to get the JEDI contract in place and service up and running, but to date has been unable to derive any operational benefit from its efforts.

DoD conceived of the JEDI contract as the centerpiece of its cloud strategy, with JEDI filling the bill for a “general purpose enterprise cloud,” and milCloud 2.0 and the Defense Enterprise Office Solution (DEOS) contract serving the department’s fit-for-purpose needs. milCloud 2.0 and DEOS are up and running, but JEDI continues to remain the elusive piece of the puzzle. With the addition of AWS to the milCloud 2.0 contract earlier this year, the environment now offers both on-premise (fit-for-purpose) and off-premise (general purpose) cloud services – making it a feasible option for DoD organizations looking to migrate to the cloud today as JEDI remains uncertain.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.