The Pentagon is on track to award contracts in December for its potential $9 billion multi-vendor Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC) enterprise cloud computing effort, according to the department’s chief information officer.

“I am so excited about what we have done with JWCC and the anticipation of the upcoming award here, again, in about a month,” John Sherman, the DoD CIO, said Monday. “We got a little more to go. We’re down on the half-yard line here. We’re getting into our stances and we’re going to punch it in.”

Mr. John Sherman, Department of Defense chief information officer (DoD photo by Chad J. McNeeley)

After initially aiming to make awards for JWCC in April, Sherman announced in late March the Pentagon was pushing that back to December to allow the department more time to interact with the four vendors competing for the program as proposals were being assessed (Defense Daily, March 29). 

“Everything is going very well. It’s just a matter of the scale of this and as we lean into it and start doing all the back and forth with the vendors, having the questions answered, looking at the proposals, it’s just going to take us a little bit longer than we thought,” Sherman told reporters at the time.

The Pentagon first announced JWCC in July 2021 as the new effort replacing the 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).

Following a market research period, the Pentagon last November issued direct solicitation requests allowing Amazon Web Services [AMZN], Google [GOOG], Microsoft [MSFT] and Oracle [ORCL] to submit proposals for JWCC.

“A lot was learned on [JEDI]. I know JEDI was seen as something that happened in fits and starts. It was the right decision for the right time. And we would not be here getting ready to award JWCC in about a month, 30 days-ish from now, had we not gone through all this,” Sherman said Monday. 

DISA’s Hosting and Computer Center (HAC) has been assisting in the review process to inform the JWCC awards in December, which will be a three-year base deal with two one-year options.

During a discussion at DISA’s Forecast to Industry event on Monday, Sherman said DISA’s HAC and the individual services’ “fit-for-purpose” cloud efforts have ensured DoD is a more “cloud conversant enterprise” as it pursues JWCC. 

“Using cloud is not just about procurement. It’s not just about the technology. It’s about how do you use it. You don’t just forklift apps up there. There’s cloud-native approaches. There’s the DevSecOps pieces. There’s asking how do you pay for it, moving from a capital expenditure to an operations expenditure model. How do you do the task orders? It’s about how does a large enterprise become a cloud-conversant organization. And that’s what we have done at the Department of Defense,” Sherman said.

Sherman also cited JWCC as a “fundamental pillar” of the Pentagon’s Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) initiative, which aims to bring in joint technologies, ranging from artificial intelligence to new advanced computing tools, to build a cross-service digital architecture for future multi-domain operations.

“JADC2…is utterly reliant on having an enterprise cloud capability that operates at all three security classifications, top secret, secret and [unclassified], from the continental United States all the way out to the tactical edge,” Sherman said. “JWCC is the piece that has got to be there to make this happen.”

The awards in December are aligned with DoD’s strategy to stand up an initial JWCC capability before holding a full and open competition in several years for an enduring multi-vendor enterprise cloud capability.

Sherman previously noted that follow-on effort is likely to start in December 2023, with those contracts now likely to be awarded in January 2026.