Pentagon officials secured priorities in the latest omnibus spending bill, approved Thursday by the House, for new projects to build more resilient cyber networks needed to address known vulnerabilities.
Department of Defense leadership’s plan for a multi-billion dollar cloud computing network project and the Army’s move to reinforce its tactical network were both included in the bill.
The House passed the omnibus spending bill by a 256-167 vote, which now moves to the Senate.
“The Department of Defense seeks to accelerate and streamline the acquisition of cloud computing services at multiple security levels across the Department in an effort to provide the benefits of cloud computing while reducing management and administrative burdens,” officials wrote in the DoD report on the bill.
Lawmakers appropriated $700 billion in funding for DoD. Included in the latter is the department’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud project.
“This effort would be a tailored acquisition for commercial cloud services that could be a single award indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for a period of up to 10 years,” officials wrote in the DoD-specific report.
DoD officials held a JEDI industry day on March 7, where some commercial sector participants expressed concern about the program being a single-award contract for such a massive project (Defense Daily, March 7).
The defense report on the omnibus acknowledges regarding the single-award decision and potential skepticism that one company will be able to ensure the highest level of security for all facets of cloud computing across the department.
Lawmakers have directed the Secretary of Defense to provide a report to the relevant congressional committees within 60 days of the bill’s enactment detailing how the project will ensure all DoD entities will make best use of JEDI cloud services and to justify the contract type.
“The report should also include justification, to include cost considerations, for executing a single award contract rather than creating an infrastructure capable of storing and sharing data across multiple cloud computing service providers concurrently, to include data migration and middleware costs,” lawmakers wrote in the bill’s report.
Appropriations in the bill also reflects the Army’s new “halt, fix, pivot” approach to address vulnerabilities in its tactical network.
Despite an original budget request of $420.5 million for the Army’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) system, the new bill’s funding drops down to $102.4 million.
The change follows Army officials’ plan to halt tactical network programs, including WIN-T, that have known operational and resiliency flaws (Defense Daily, March 20).
Instead, funding reflects a focus on implementing short-term capabilities to fix the most pressing challenges and move to new acquisition programs for projects such as the Unified Network Transport.
Army officials have also halted the Mid-Tier Vehicular Networking Radio program, which now receives no funding in the omnibus bill. Instead, $415.4 million has been designated for new handheld, manpack and smallform radios.
Army tactical network funding in the bill also includes $80.6 million for the Transportable Tactical Command Communications capability,
Several new projects were also included in the spending bill, including $100 million for DoD’s artificial intelligence program Project Maven.
The first round of AI algorithms produced under Project Maven, and used on warfighting operational sensors, were deployed in December 2017 (Defense Daily, Nov. 1).
Lawmakers also included $342.7 million for the Army’s innovative Joint Battle Command – Platform program, up from the original $282.5 million budget request.