Esper Recusing Himself From JEDI Review Process

Joanna Estrada
October 25, 2019

After much political wrangling and presidential bluster, the contract to acquire a commercial cloud computing infrastructure is back in the hands of career acquisition professionals.

That means Luke Esper joined IBM five months after bids were due for JEDI and five months before Esper was sworn in as defense secretary.

An IBM spokeswoman told The Washington Post that Luke Esper works as a "digital strategy consultant with IBM Services since February".

Esper's son's role is not related to IBM's pursuit of JEDI, she added.

The US military's controversial JEDI cloud contract has seen another unusual twist: the US Secretary of Defense has stepped back from the project as it emerged his son works for one of the bidders for the $10bn winner-takes-all deal. IBM was one of two firms culled from the JEDI bidding early on for not meeting the base requirements; Oracle was the other. Oracle sued the Pentagon in December after it was cut from the competition, alleging that the Defense Department unfairly limited competition by tailoring the JEDI requirements to Amazon's proposed solution.

Some technology companies were also concerned that a single award would give the victor an unfair advantage in follow-on work. The case is now before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Oracle separately filed a protest in August 2018 with the Government Accountability Office, which also concluded that the Pentagon's procurement process was fair.

The JEDI contract is part of a broad modernization of the Pentagon's information technology systems and has been mired in conflict of interest allegations involving a former Pentagon employee who worked on the contract and for Amazon.com Inc.

AWS and Microsoft, the first and second largest enterprise cloud providers, respectively, were the only two bidders in the $10 billion sweepstakes that met the military's "competitive range determination" to proceed in the process, the Pentagon said at the time.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has recused himself from decisions regarding the controversial $10 billion JEDI cloud acquisition due to potential conflicts of interest, according to a DOD statement.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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