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Oracle To U.S. Lawmakers: Put Us Back In Running For JEDI Cloud Bid

In a letter to leaders of the House Appropriations Committee, Oracle's top lobbyist makes a case for why Oracle, as well as IBM, deserve to remain under consideration for the winner-take-all $10 billion cloud transformation contract.

Not having made the two-vendor shortlist for the military's looming JEDI contract, Oracle has taken its fight directly to U.S. lawmakers, asking them to put its bid back in the running for the potentially $10 billion enterprise cloud transformation award.

Kenneth Glueck, the executive vice president who leads the Redwood Shores, Calif. company's government lobbying efforts, wrote leaders of the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations on April 25, appealing for the congressional body responsible for federal spending to exercise oversight to counter a flawed procurement process.

"We believe that a full and fair consideration of four competing JEDI proposals is in the best interests of the warfighter, the taxpayer, and the United States," Glueck said.

[Related: 10 Things You Should Know About The DoD Cloud Strategy]

The DoD CIO, advised by Defense Digital Services, a team within the U.S. Digital Service in the midst of a leadership transition, has said the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure award will go to either Amazon Web Services or Microsoft." Oracle and IBM, the two other contenders, both have seen appeals rejected by the Government Accountability Office.

"By eliminating IBM and Oracle, DoD eliminated two of the most enterprise and security-focused CSPs from competition, leaving only two companies to compete for up to a ten-year, single-vendor award," Glueck wrote in his letter to "update" the committee on the military's procurement of cloud computing services.

A final decision on JEDI could come as early as mid-July.

Oracle was denied based on the first of seven "gate criteria," Glueck told Chairwoman Nita Lowey and the committee's ranking Republican member, Kay Granger.

That first "arbitrary gating criteria" knocked out vendors for whom JEDI spending would represent the majority of total, unclassified cloud revenue in January and February of 2018. Had that ratio been calculated a month later, or any time since, Oracle would have cleared the first gate, he said.

By focusing on a threshold based on financial results from 18 months prior to the award's delivery, "DoD virtually assures itself to only evaluate legacy cloud alternatives, depriving the warfighter of the newest generation of cloud technology."

Oracle has long argued the winner-take-all contract was geared for industry leader Amazon Web Services—and that two former DoD officials with ties to Amazon had illegally steered the award in that direction.

Oracle sued the federal government on the conflict of interest issue, and after a short stay to allow for an Inspector General investigation that found no corruption of the process, that case has resumed in a federal court.

Glueck recently told Bloomberg News that Oracle will continue to fight for JEDI on two fronts: through its lawsuit, as well as congressional outreach.

In that interview, Glueck raised Oracle's now familiar refrain about JEDI: the RFP laying out criteria for vendors "just screams Amazon."

Gleuck used his letter as an opportunity to make a pitch for Oracle's cloud infrastructure technology.

"Oracle has invested billions of dollars to build a suite of software and hardware targeted precisely at the needs of large, highly complex, sophisticated enterprises like DoD," he wrote Congress. "We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to provide enterprise cloud technology to the United States government in dedicated government regions. We have spent thousands of hours to understand the needs expressed in JEDI and articulate the value we could bring to DoD’s mission in our proposal."

Oracle's offering could potentially save the United States government tens of millions of dollars, he said.

"Yet DoD refused to even review our submission beyond the eighth page of a nearly thousand-page submission."

Oracle has already succeeded in gaining support from some in Congress.

In October, two U.S. congressmen accused military leaders of violating federal law and industry best practices to deliver the entirety of the massive contract to a single provider, implied to be AWS.

The Republican politicians -- Steve Womack from Arkansas and Tom Cole from Oklahoma -- wrote a letter to Glenn Fine, principal deputy inspector general for the U.S. Department of Defense, that severely criticized the JEDI RFP process.

One requirement in particular provoked their concern—the need for a provider that meets Defense Information Systems Agency Impact Level 6.

The congressmen also wrote it has come to their attention, through media reports, that people in high-ranking positions within the military are going against the department's ethics guidelines because they "have significant connections" to that contractor.

Womack continued that line of questioning in May at an Appropriations subcommittee hearing with Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, reported Federal News Network.

"There’s been a down select to two organizations, that in my strong opinion, continues a strong pattern of limiting competition on a program that is potentially extremely expensive. We don’t know just how expensive it's going to be, and I have strong concerns about how the approach by the Department of Defense in this arena seems to be geared toward producing a desired outcome with a specific vendor," he said, according to the publication that covers federal spending.

Shanahan answered that competition was a "fundamental premise" of the approach to JEDI implementation, and underpinning that were efforts to "preclude vendor lock-in."

“I’ll leave the subject as that it is clear that multi-vendor cloud environments are widely used by large organizations for a simple reason, they increase competition, they improve security and capability and they provide cost savings and in an environment like we’re in right now, I would assume that that would be a key issue for our Department of Defense,” Womack later told Shanahan.

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