Oracle takes DOD to court on JEDI cloud strategy
Oracle Corp. has taken its fight against the Defense Department’s single-award strategy for the "JEDI" cloud computing infrastructure contract to the Court of Federal Claims with a new lawsuit.
Just last month, the company lost its protest at the Government Accountability Office as GAO ruled DOD was within its rights to pursue the $10 billion contract as a single award.
Oracle argued that strategy violated federal rules and wasn’t in keeping with commercial best practices. GAO also ruled against Oracle’s argument that the structure of the solicitation represented a conflict of interest and slanted the award toward Amazon Web Services.
But think of Oracle's latest challenge as a new process because it technically is not an appeal of the GAO decision. The court will not review GAO’s decision and will essentially hear the case as if that ruling never happened.
Oracle’s court filing is sealed but a redacted version is in the works. My expectation is that Oracle will make many of the same arguments it made before GAO, but look for it to be supplemented with other information.
GAO’s scope when looking at these things is relatively narrow. As opposed to the court, which has can look at a broader scope of issues.
There also is the matter of IBM’s protest at GAO, which is still pending. A decision is due Jan. 18 but GAO will most likely dismiss that protest in the next few days.
GAO will need to review Oracle’s filing with the court to see if it raises essentially the same issues. IBM will be given a chance to object if GAO decides to dismiss their protest.
But GAO will likely dismiss because the Court of Federal Claims has a higher authority than GAO. Anything the court says or rules on overrides anything GAO does. So there is no reason for GAO to continue to work on IBM’s protest if the Court of Federal Claims decision just overrides anything GAO would say.
We’ll keep an eye on the GAO docket to see if and when the IBM protest is dismissed.
I’ve reached out to Oracle and IBM for comment but they have not responded yet.
JEDI is one of two large commercial cloud initiatives at DOD along with the $8 billion Defense Enterprise Office Solutions contract for email, calendaring and collaboration services. Through these, DOD wants to move many of its applications and data into a public cloud infrastructure.
Many in industry applaud that move to commercial cloud environments. But some have been opposed to the single-award strategy because in their eyes it would cut DOD off from innovation from other cloud providers. Congress also has questioned the strategy but that criticism hasn’t deterred DOD.
Proposals for JEDI were due Oct. 12 with Oracle, IBM, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft all filing bids. AWS has been perceived as the frontrunner for JEDI with some believing Microsoft is also in good position with its Azure offering.
And as a reminder: just because GAO ruled against Oracle and even if the court rules against Oracle, there is nothing stopping any of the losing bidders from filing a new protest after an award is made.
DOD is expected to make an award in April, but it is unclear how the Court of Federal Claims filing will impact that schedule. But DOD likely can’t make an award while the case is pending.
Posted by Nick Wakeman on Dec 07, 2018 at 11:32 AM