The IT Alliance for Public Sector (ITAPS), an IT industry group that represents about 80 tech firms, has asked Congress to shed light on the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud service acquisition plan.

In an April 30 letter to the House and Senate Armed Services committees, ITAPS asked legislators to release the Pentagon’s justification for choosing to award the JEDI cloud contract to just one vendor. While the Department of Defense (DoD) hasn’t officially put a price on the contract, analysts speculate it could be as much as $10 billion. DoD Chief Management Officer Jay Gibson, in a call with reporters in March, did state that “it’s fair to say we anticipate that this will be a multibillion-dollar procurement.”

Controversy over the JEDI contract has been brewing for months, but may be approaching a fever pitch. In the letter, ITAPS lays out its concerns with the single awardee plan.

“Deployment of a single cloud conflicts with established best practices and industry trends in the commercial marketplace, as well as current law and regulation, which calls for the award of multiple task or delivery order contracts to the maximum extent practicable,” the letter says. “Further, the speed of adoption of innovative commercial solutions, like cloud, is facilitated by the use of these best practices.”

The letter also highlights DoD Secretary James Mattis’ April 18 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee where he said the JEDI initiative “will be a full and open competition–not sole source.”

“Nonetheless, DoD’s cloud acquisition strategy, as outlined in the draft RFP released in early March and affirmed in the second draft released [in April], remains designed to facilitate the deployment of a single cloud under this program,” the ITAPS letter explains. “For this reason and consistent with the Secretary’s sentiments, we encourage the Department to follow the law, regulations, and commercial best practices in this acquisition strategy.”

The letter, addressed to Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., as well as Reps. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and Adam Smith, D-Wash., argues that awarding such a large contract to a single vendor is not only a bad idea for DoD, but also for taxpayers.

“As competition intensifies, prices fall, innovation accelerates, and performance improves,” the letter explains. “The current strategy dilutes the benefits of best practices, strongly increasing the likelihood of vendor and technology lock-in, and negatively impacting innovation, costs, and security. Moreover, it sends an ominous signal that competitors should not invest in the public sector marketplace.”

The Pentagon released a second draft RFP in mid-April and said it would release a final RFP in early May. Neither the Pentagon nor Congress has responded in any official way to the ITAPS letter.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.