(TFC)— The Department of Defense has techies worried about it’s latest cloud-based data storage ambitions. A single contract on the table right now, possibly worth billions, will go to just one company. In fact, it would encompass a significant percentage of DoD documents from unclassified to top secret. Observers, however, warn the dangers of awarding such a broad contract to one company outweigh the gains.
According to NextGov, the contract will be rewarded during the fourth quarter of 2018, lasting 10 years. It calls for a single cloud service provider to host DoD and Pentagon data from a wide range of classifications. Similar contracts in the past, like one involving the CIA, resulted in hundreds of billions for the hosting company, Amazon. That same company, it seems, is slated as a favorite to win this contract as well.
Onlookers, however, have understandable concerns about granting one company essentially a monopoly on sensitive cloud data. NextGov points out long-term issues such a large private contract could do to the federal IT market. Not only would the data covered under that contract be claimed, but the winner could move onto what’s left of the market.
The Fifth Column News also covered a recent drama involving a Pentagon contractor, apparently named VendorX. The mysterious company left a massive cache of Pentagon data unsecured on cloud servers. This was discovered by a cybersecurity firm poking around for vulnerabilities to note for cloud providers. Analysis determined VendorX was involved in a Pentagon social media surveillance and, possibly, social engineering program. The story demonstrated the risks of trusting such massive amounts of data to the shortcomings of private contractors. In the private sector, corners are cut for the sake of a bottom dollar.
“We are, no kidding, right now writing the contract”, says Pentagon Acquisition Chief Ellen Lord, “to get everything moved to one cloud to begin with and then go from there”, NextGov reports.” A fundamental shift we’re making is to move the entire DOD to the cloud so our data can be shared and leveraged and we can do big data analytic’s.”
These new plans were announced on September 13th, 2017 and formulated by DoD Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. Named JETI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure), the initiative aims to “aggressively accelerate” DoD use of cloud storage “with a focus on commercial solutions”, a PDF letter statement by DoD states.
Reading the document, it would seem a key facet of this new program is maximizing the contracting potential of DoD cloud storage. JETI aims to outsource a vast scale of the DoD cloud, creating new contracts from application migration support, to training. The contract initiative would be done in association with US CYBERCOMM, an arm of DoD specializing in cyber warfare and tactics. It’s currently led by Admiral Michael Rogers, who was removed from his post in NSA (National Security Agency) leadership by the Obama Administration.
Both DoD officials, Patrick Shanahan and Ellen Lord, also have interesting and relevant pasts. The duo was appointed during the Trump Administration in July and August respectively. Prior to being appointed deputy secretary of defense, Shanahan worked as the senior vice president of Boeing. The massive US military contractor specializes in aero-science from commercial planes, to military jets and satellites.
Lord, on the other hand, prior to her appointment to DoD worked at Textron Systems Corporation, another multi-billion dollar company dealing in US military aerospace, and homeland security. Taxtron was actually sued in 2008 by the commonwealth of Massachusetts for violating toxic waste dumping regulations.
President Donald Trump campaigned to a disgruntled white middle class on draining a swamp Hillary Clinton could only perpetuate. Nearly a year into his administration, it’s abundantly clear he’s doing exactly what he campaigned against. Although swaths of White House and government positions remain vacant, people like Shanahan and Lord populate what’s been filled. Washington’s revolving door has reached a new level of access to corporate infiltration, and manipulation of the federal government. A push to essentially monopolize DoD’s cloud data by two former military contractor employee’s is only one play among many.