The Ministry of Defense wants to make things right when it comes to large cloud purchases, even if it means delays.
John Sherman, chief information officer for the Ministry of Defense, told lawmakers submitted testimony for a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that the department has committed to building multi-suppliers, multi-cloud environments. The cloud is a critical gear in the overall vision of the joint management and control department of all domains and digital modernization strategy. But after the failed enterprise defense infrastructure contract, Sherman said it was important to “fix this,” even if it meant delaying DOD’s current major cloud contract, potentially $ 9 billion in Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability.
DOD is currently reviewing Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability proposals from four major cloud service providers: Microsoft, which initially won the contract with JEDI, Oracle, Amazon Web Services and Google, “to ensure they meet DoD requirements,” which includes providing opportunities in the entire classification levels from unclassified to top secret and to tactical advantage, Sherman wrote in testimony prepared for a subcommittee of the Armed Forces Committee of the House of Representatives on Cyber, Innovative Technologies and Information Systems hearing on May 18.
The contract was originally scheduled for April, but was rescheduled for December, a move Sherman is defending.
“I personally told the team that while we need to move with a sense of urgency, we also need to do the right thing and take the time to complete all the key tasks in public procurement,” he wrote.
Representative Jim Banks (R-Ind.), A member of the HASC Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies and Information Systems, said he was “disappointed” by the delays in the cloud contract and worried that “there is still a long way to go.”
Sherman said during the hearing that awarding the contract before the end of the calendar year was “one of my top priorities” and that the DOD had underestimated how long it took to review the proposals.
“We recognize that this is extremely important… recognizing the abolition of JEDI and how important it is for [chief digital and artificial intelligence office] efforts to jointly command and control all domains and so much of what we do for military battles, “he said.” I assure you we are dealing with this with speed. ”
Sherman’s comments come as the department increasingly talks about its cloud needs from battlefield communications to the use of artificial intelligence and data analysis to support high-level decision-making.
DOD’s appetite and spending on cloud infrastructure and services have grown in recent years, along with overall investment in information technology.
For fiscal 2023, the Pentagon has requested a budget of $ 58 billion for IT and cyberspace activities – a 2.5% increase over 2022 levels. This includes about $ 12.8 billion for cyber and classified IT spending and $ 45 billion. $ 2 billion for unclassified IT, according to Sherman’s testimony. According to federal IT boardDOD is spending approximately $ 3.2 billion on large IT orders for fiscal 2022, and only 73% of the 37 projects tracked are on schedule.
Cloud spending, from infrastructure to software as a service, such as the department’s adoption of Microsoft Office 365, jumped nearly 20 percent from fiscal years 2021 to 2022.
“The department is continuing its commitment to cloud computing and we have seen a 19% increase in cloud spending from fiscal 21 to 22,” Sherman wrote.
“This growth includes continued investment in cloud capabilities for infrastructure, platform and software as a service, including the department’s transition to DoD365, culminating in years of efforts to ensure unclassified email, voice, video, and chat communication tools. are the best in the breed. “
Sherman also pointed out that such investments will not be delayed, especially when it comes to software and the requirements of the DOD modernization strategy published earlier this year.
“As DOD relies more and more on software, the ability to securely and quickly deliver sustainable software is a competitive advantage that will determine future conflicts,” Sherman wrote.
The Pentagon plans to launch an implementation plan that will outline ongoing initiatives for it software upgrade strategyin the coming months.