UPDATED 13:23 EDT / NOVEMBER 04 2021


Report: Google seeking to join Pentagon’s JWCC multicloud procurement program

Google LLC is seeking to participate in the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability technology procurement program, the New York Times reported late Wednesday.

The Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, or JWCC, program is the successor to the controversial Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure of JEDI cloud contract that the DOD scrapped earlier this year. The goal of JWCC is to modernize the department’s information technology infrastructure using solutions from cloud providers. The DOD hasn’t yet detailed how much the contract could be worth, but JEDI, the scrapped program that JWCC has replaced, was expected to be worth up to $10 billion over 10 years.

A key difference between JEDI and JWCC is the number of cloud providers involved. The former contract was structured as a single-supplier deal. JWCC, in contrast, is a multisupplier program through which the DOD intends to procure cloud computing products from multiple providers. The department is expected to submit “directed solicitations” to at least two providers, namely Amazon Web Services Inc. and Microsoft Corp., according to a recent FederalNewsNetwork report.

“As this is an active acquisition, we cannot provide any additional information related to this effort,”  DOD spokesman Russell Goemaere told the Times in a statement.

The report that Google hopes to participate in the program represents a notable development. The search giant didn’t compete for the JEDI program, the predecessor to the JWCC.

Google is reportedly “aggressively pursuing” the JWCC contract and has been working on the effort for at least several months. In September, the company’s Google Cloud cloud computing unit is said to have deemed the effort to be included in the program important enough to warrant reassigning engineers from other projects if necessary. 

Google said in a statement that it is “firmly committed to serving our public sector customers” including the Defense Department. The search giant added that it “will evaluate any future bid opportunities accordingly.” 

Earlier this week, Google Cloud Chief Executive Officer Thomas Kurian reportedly met with Air Force Chief of Staff Charles Brown Jr. and other top Pentagon officials to make the case for Google’s participation in JWCC. The DOD is reportedly expected to inform Google about whether or not it qualifies to make a bid in the coming weeks.

The report that Google is seeking to participate in JWCC comes three years after the company decided to end its work on a DOD artificial intelligence program dubbed Project Maven. Before Google’s exit from Project Maven, more than 4,000 employees signed a petition arguing against the contract and several workers quit in protest. 

Shortly after the controversy, Google published a set of principles designed to “guide the ethical development and use of AI in our research and products.” A source told the Times that some Google employees believe participating in JWCC wouldn’t violate the AI principals. The reason, the source said, is that the contract would enable “generic uses of its cloud technology and artificial intelligence.”

Google Cloud has taken on a number of projects for the DOD since existing Project Maven. Last May, the company won a contract to build a “secure cloud management solution” for protecting the DOD’s cloud infrastructure. Later in 2020, Google was selected to provide machine learning services for an initiative aimed at modernizing some of the U.S. Navy’s vessel and facility maintenance processes. 

Photo: gregwest98/Flickr

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