Sponsored by Spectra Group
23 Mar 20. Pentagon Will Not Split JEDI Award. DoD didn’t rule out changing its mind about whether Amazon or Microsoft gets the cloud computing contract. What it did rule out, unambiguously, was splitting the award between them. Defense Department has no intention of splitting the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract between Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, a Pentagon spokesman told me this morning.
Amazon is suing the Defense Department to overturn the award, potentially worth $10bn if all options are exercised, to Microsoft. In his email to me, public affairs officer Lt. Col. Robert Carver did not rule out the possibility that the award would be overturned, only the possibility that it would be split.
Carver was responding to speculation that a court motion earlier this month signaled a willingness to divide the contract between Microsoft and Amazon. True, the Defense Department has indeed filed a formal motion asking for a chance to “reconsider” certain technical aspects of the award to Microsoft that the judge had deemed questionable. But that narrowly phrased request does not mean the Pentagon is reconsidering the fundamental principle underlying JEDI, a principle upheld in a previous federal case: a single award to a single vendor.
With over 500 cloud-computing contracts already awarded by one agency or another across the sprawling Defense Department bureaucracy, DoD wants to replace as many of them as possible – but, explicitly, not all – with a single “general purpose cloud,” a common default option, run by a single contractor.
Here’s the core of Lt. Col. Carver’s response, emailed to Breaking Defense this morning after a week of back and forth:
“If the Motion for Voluntary Remand is approved by the Court of Federal Claims, DoD will conduct a re-evaluation of the existing proposals and, where appropriate, revised proposals, to ensure that the Court of Federal Claims’ noted concerns are addressed…. the re-evaluation will consist of an evaluation of the existing proposals, as well as narrowly-tailored revisions to the proposals,” Carver writes. “The Department will make a new award decision based upon those re-evaluations, which will be in conformity with the solicitation requirements and stated evaluation criteria. DoD will not ‘split the award,’ as the requirement remains for a single award and the solicitation calls for a single award.”
A Narrow Motion
How did we get here? In October, after much controversy, legal maneuvering, and delay, the Pentagon awarded the contract to Microsoft Azure. That shocked observers who’d presumed the favorite was Amazon Web Services, which had created a similar common cloud for the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Amazon soon filed suit, arguing President Trump’s unprecedented public criticism of their proposal had tilted the scales, which DoD denies.
What happened next? “On February 13, 2020, the Court granted AWS’s motion for a preliminary injunction, finding, among other things, that AWS would likely be able to show that DoD erred in evaluating the offerors’ proposals for Factor 5, Price Scenario 6,” as the Pentagon’s March 12th motion to reconsider put it. “[Accordingly], defendant, the United States, respectfully requests that the Court remand this case to the Department of Defense (DoD or agency) for 120 days to reconsider certain aspects of the challenged agency decision.”
Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives, as was reported in the trade press, argued that this willingness to reconsider signaled that the Pentagon was preparing to split the buy and get the program moving again rather than spend months in litigation.
The Pentagon made it clear in its motion it’s only reconsidering limited aspects of the award. It also wants to limit the ability of either Amazon or Microsoft to update their original proposals.
Specifically, “DoD wishes to reconsider its evaluation of the technical aspects of Price Scenario 6, and intends to issue a solicitation amendment and to accept limited proposal revisions addressing the offerors’ technical approach to that price scenario…under both Factor 5 and Factor 9,” the DoD motion continues. “DoD also wishes to reconsider its evaluation of the offerors’ online marketplace offerings [and] to reconsider its award decision in response to the other technical challenges presented by AWS. DoD does not intend to conduct discussions with offerors or to accept proposal revisions with respect to any aspect of the solicitation other than Price Scenario 6.”
“A remand here is in the interests of justice because it will provide the agency with an opportunity to reconsider the award decision at issue in light of AWS’s allegations, this Court’s opinion, and any new information gathered during the proposed remand,” the DoD motion says. “During the proposed remand, the agency potentially could make decisions that would moot this action, in whole or in part, and may obviate the need for further litigation in this Court.”
None of this is admitting any error on the Pentagon’s part, an earlier statement to reporters emphasized. “While we disagree with the Court’s decision, we must address the findings in the Court’s Order with the intent of ensuring our warfighters will get this urgent and critically needed technology as quickly and efficiently as possible,” this statement ran. “As such, the Department determined that the best and most efficient path forward is to conduct a re-evaluation of the proposals in order to address the Court’s noted concerns.”
“The Department maintains the JEDI Cloud contract was awarded based upon a fair and unbiased source selection process,” the statement continues. “The process consisted of a fair evaluation of proposals based solely on the solicitation’s stated criteria and the proposals submitted.”
In other words: The Defense Department doesn’t think they did anything wrong on JEDI, but since the judge had a problem with one specific part of how they awarded the contract, they’re asking to fix that specific part.
And then what?
Well, it’s possible that the Defense Department could voluntarily withdraw its award to Microsoft and give the contract to Amazon. But given their confidence in their own judgment, that does not appear likely.
In our analysis, here’s the scenario the Pentagon is probably hoping for. They fix what the judge disliked about their selection process, they re-do that piece and Microsoft still comes out the winner, at which point they ask the judge to dismiss Amazon’s case. The Pentagon isn’t conceding defeat on JEDI, not yet. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
22 Mar 20. USN completes development testing of NGJ-MB pods for Growler. The US Navy (USN) has completed developmental testing of the Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) pods being developed by Raytheon for the Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack (EA) aircraft.
The milestone, announced by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) on 19 March, followed 400 hours of basic functionality, electromagnetic environmental effects (E3) data collection, and performance testing of NGJ-MB engineering development model (EDM) pods over a three-month period.
Raytheon has been contracted to deliver 15 engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) and 14 flight-certification trial NGJ-MB systems to the USN from its El Segundo facility in California.
As previously reported by Jane’s, Raytheon’s NGJ-MB pod is part of a wider Block 2 electronic warfare (EW) capability upgrade for the Growler that also includes the NGJ-Low Band (LB) and NGJ-High Band (HB) pods to replace the current AN/ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System (TJS). In developing three separate NGJ solutions, the USN is looking to enhance the EA capabilities of the Growler in each of the three separate wavebands, as opposed to the current TJS solution that provides a good capability across the entirety of the frequency spectrum.
Jane’s C4ISR & Mission Systems: Air notes that the NGJ will be a pod-mounted system that incorporates digital, software-based, and active electronically scanned array (AESA) technologies to create an enhanced EA capability that is capable of disrupting and degrading hostile radar and communications emitters, as well as addressing advanced and emerging threats operating within increasingly dense environments. The capability’s mission areas are listed as stand-off (supporting deep-strike missions) and stand-in jamming, along with modified (supporting sea warfare; close-air support; irregular warfare – communications and non-conventional weapon targets; and battlefield air interdiction operations) and penetrating escort. The Growler is capable of carrying up to five jamming pods: two under each wing and one under the fuselage. (Source: Jane’s)
19 Mar 20. Astronics Introduces Next-Gen Land Mobile Radio Service Monitor. Astronics Corporation (NASDAQ: ATRO), a leading provider of advanced technologies for global aerospace, defense, and other mission critical industries, announced today the Freedom R8200 Communications System Analyzer, a next-generation land mobile radio (LMR) test instrument for public safety, maritime, commercial, and critical infrastructure communications systems. The new service monitor is the first test instrument that combines comprehensive digital and analog LMR testing with the ability to measure important RF network characteristics, such as distance to fault (DTF), return loss, and voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR).
Featuring a vector network analyzer (VNA), the Freedom R8200 enables users to return communications assets to the field faster by reducing set-up time associated with multiple, stand-alone instruments when performing subscriber radio and infrastructure testing.
“As radio technology continues to evolve, our goal is to provide maintainers with the right tools to ensure optimal performance of critical communications systems,” said Jim Mulato, President of Astronics Test Systems. “Building on our Freedom legacy of LMR test equipment, we are pleased to offer this high-impact product designed to increase operational efficiency.”
The new FREEDOM R8200 includes several standard new features, plus a Process Automation Toolkit (PAT), which enables technicians at any level of expertise to compose automated test scripts. Additionally, the remote front panel allows users to monitor and control the analyzer from any networked PC and the extended generate output range simplifies operation by eliminating the need to switch ports for receiver testing.
Astronics Test Systems will participate in a live webinar today, March 19th, “Enforcing First Responder In-Building Coverage,” detailing further applications of Freedom Communications Analyzers, including the Freedom R8200.
Spectra Group Plc
Spectra Group (UK) Ltd, internationally renowned award-winning information security and communications specialist with a proven record of accomplishment.
Spectra is a dynamic, agile and security-accredited organisation that offers secure Hosted and Managed Solutions and Cyber Advisory Services with a track record of delivering on time, to spec and on budget.
With over 15 years of experience in delivering solutions for governments around the globe, elite militaries and private enterprises of all sizes, Spectra’s platinum and gold-level partnerships with third-party vendors ensure the supply of best value leading-edge technology.
Spectra was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise (Innovation) in 2019 for SlingShot.
In November 2017, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd announced its listing as a Top 100 Government SME Supplier by the UK Crown Commercial Services.
Spectra’s CEO, Simon Davies, was awarded 2017 Businessman of the Year by Battlespace magazine.
Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001:2013 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.