Google Withdraws Bid for $10B Pentagon Contract

Google drops out of Pentagon's $10-billion cloud computing competition

Google drops out of Pentagon's $10-billion cloud computing competition

Top Pentagon officials have said the JEDI contract would account for about 16 percent of the department's overall cloud-computing work, subsuming numerous department's own cloud efforts.

The company filed the bid protest with the Government Accountability Office just ahead of this Friday's deadline for vendors to submit JEDI, or Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, proposals.

The trouble started in May, when Google was poised to renew a Pentagon project called Maven that used the company's artificial intelligence technology to enhance drone strikes.

According to Reuters, the company's AI principles bar using the software for weapons or with services that could potentially violate accepted worldwide standards on human rights and surveillance.

In a statement, Google said they "couldn't be assured that [the deal] would align with [their] AI Principles".

Google said that it will continue pursuing strategic work to help the local, state, and federal customers modernize infrastructures they have and meet the critical requirements they have, which leaves plenty of room for additional projects involving contracts with the Pentagon. The competition has drawn interest from other major tech companies, including Amazon and Microsoft.

Amazon has the highest number of necessary government security certifications, racked up as part of its deal with the Central Intelligence Agency.

Defense Department officials said in early March that the $10 billion, 10-year contract would be bid out to a single cloud provider.

Pichai recently found himself before Republican lawmakers to discuss issues that include the company's work in China and antitrust concerns.

The JEDI cloud contract would potentially have a much broader exposure to the Pentagon's advanced weapons systems. Microsoft first announced Azure Government Secret back in October, and today Julia White, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Azure said that new Azure Regions dedicated to secret U.S. classified data will be available in Q1 2019. Initial bidding began two months ago and will conclude this week, with leading contenders including Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM.

The decision to back out of Project Maven occurred after thousands of employees signed a petition asking the company to stop working with the military, with numerous employees resigning in protest.

Even if Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft doesn't win the JEDI contract, earning the IL-6 authorization next year will give the company an advantage as it competes for other government business.

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