The four vendors selected for the Pentagon’s potential $9 billion Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC) program will each compete for task orders under the contract, with the process able to begin in about two weeks.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), told reporters on Thursday the department has already assessed initial opportunities that could be the first to make use of JWCC enterprise cloud capabilities and cited the competitive task order process as offering potential for additional cost savings.

Department of Defense Chief Information Officer John Sherman, Defense Information Systems Agency Director U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner, Department of Defense Deputy CIO for Information Environment Lily Zeleke, and DISA Hosting and Compute Center Director Sharon Wood hold a press briefing on the Department of Defense’s award of the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2022. (DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander Kubitza)

“While we have discounted pricing already within the overall construct, each of those task orders will be competed and, therefore, we could potentially receive even additional cost savings as they go forward,” Skinner said in a press briefing. “We’re continuing to work with our mission partners across the department. We’ve identified multiple ones that could be candidates and we’re working through the specific details.”

The Pentagon announced on Wednesday it has officially selected Google [GOOG], Oracle [ORCL], Amazon Web Services [AMZN] and Microsoft [MSFT] for JWCC, which were the four firms that received direct solicitation requests to submit proposals for the program (Defense Daily, Dec. 7).  

“This is a huge day for the department and what we can bring to our warfighters, particularly for areas like Joint All-Domain Command and Control, JADC2. We’ve talked about being able to provide that undergirding of the cloud computing that’s going to be there for the combatant commands and many others there to be able to have the joint warfight with the capabilities they need,” John Sherman, the DoD’s chief information officer, told reporters during the briefing. “This brings us direct access to these cloud service providers, without going through an intermediary or a reseller. This creates a more efficient and effective leveraging of these capabilities.”

JWCC was first announced in July 2021 as the new effort replacing the Pentagon’s former single-award JEDI cloud program, which was shuttered after the department said it determined that “due to evolving requirements, increased cloud conversancy, and industry advances” the program no longer met its needs (Defense Daily, July 6 2021).

Microsoft originally beat out Amazon Web Services for the JEDI cloud contract in October 2019, but the program stalled following a series of legal challenges.

“Our work on JWCC will build on the success of our industry-leading cloud capabilities to support national security missions that we have developed and deployed across the department and service branches. We continue to develop new technologies that utilize the latest commercial innovations, enable interoperability and are designed to bring data analysis and insight to the tactical edge,” Microsoft Federal President Rick Wagner said in a blog post published on Thursday.

AWS noted it was “ready to deliver industry-leading cloud services to enable the DoD to achieve its critical mission,” a company spokesperson said in a statement, while Oracle Executive Vice President Ken Glueck said the company’s cloud infrastructure “will help drive the DoD’s multi-cloud innovation and ensure that our defense and intelligence communities have the best technology available to protect and preserve our national security.”

Sharon Woods, director of DISA’s Hosting and Compute Center, told reporters the department is aiming for each competitive task order process under JWCC to take “weeks or maybe a few months.”

“We’ve been working really hard to be innovative in our task order competition process. There is flexibility within the acquisition process to, for instance, use the automation tool to put together the [mission] package itself,” Woods said.

The potential $9 billion JWCC contract has a three-year base period and two one-year options, with Skinner noting that each vendor is only guaranteed $100,000 as part of the deal. 

Officials have previously detailed plans to conduct a follow-on JWCC effort with full and open competition, with the current contract’s option periods allowing for flexibility if the Pentagon chooses to pursue that on an earlier timeline.

“There will be full and open competition at some point in time in the future based on the mission requirements and where the department is at that time,” Skinner said. “And if the department decided to not do the option years, then we’ve got to start a little bit earlier for an acquisition standpoint to get things set up.”