DOD's JWCC enterprise cloud award delayed until December

John Sherman participates in a virtual panel with Billington Cybersecurity at the Pentagon, April 15, 2021. (DoD photo / Chad J. McNeeley)

An award for the Department of Defense’s multi-vendor enterprise cloud effort, the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, will be delayed until December, top officials told reporters Tuesday.

In November, DOD invited four vendors to bid on contracts for the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC), the replacement for the department’s failed attempt for a single-award cloud program known as JEDI. This multi-cloud effort will provide enterprise cloud capabilities for the department across unclassified, secret and top-secret networks. Officials said there is nothing within the DOD that currently meets this requirement, noting it is essential for realizing critical efforts such as Joint All-Domain Command and Control and the Artificial intelligence and Data Accelerator.

Over the summer, officials initially believed they could award JWCC in April, but upon working with the vendors, they realized they needed more time.

“As we’ve gotten into this and leaned into it with four vendors, we’ve recognized that our schedule was maybe a little too ahead of what we thought and that now we’re going to wrap up in the fall and we’re aiming to award in December,” DOD CIO John Sherman said. “I’ve told the team we’re going to make sure we do this right. Take the time that they need so we can stick the landing on this given the imperative of what JWCC is for the Department of Defense.”

Sherman stressed that there aren’t any problems ongoing with the procurement effort, but noted they are simply conducting due diligence with the four vendors and want to get it right given an enterprise cloud procurement for the department is “unprecedented.”  

JWCC essentially replaced the ill-fated Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program, which was a single vendor enterprise cloud effort for the department.

Officials explained the JWCC contract will have a ceiling of $9 billion with three base years and two option years. It will potentially be four separate contracts with four vendors and there will be competition at the task order level among them based on mission owner requirements.

While the department isn’t mandating everyone migrate to JWCC — especially the services, all of which have concurrent cloud efforts underway — the hope is that as JWCC is proven out, more of the services will transition to it. For the time being, JWCC is envisioned as the enterprise capability for the combatant commands and fourth estate organizations.

Once awarded, officials believe there will be access to unclassified capabilities. About 60 days after award there will be access to classified services, and no later than 180 days after award, there will be access to top-secret and tactical edge services.

Officials also expressed confidence that this cloud won’t be obsolete by the time it is awarded and deployed, as the department takes a modern approach to cloud acquisition, Sherman said.

“We are firmly confident that we are moving towards a modern solution for our modern warfighting needs against our pacing challenge and anybody or anything else that we need to confront as a department,” he said. “We’re certainly confident in the overall strategy about what JWCC is going to bring to the fight and how we’re going to leverage it.”

Correction: March 29, 2022. An earlier version of this story stated that JWCC has one option year. It has two option years.