Google won’t bid on $10 billion Pentagon cloud computing deal

Ruben Fields
October 11, 2018

While it will still work with the military, the guidelines would prohibit the use of AI in weaponry.

The decision to drop out of the bidding comes after thousands of Google employees protested the company's involvement in another United States government project.

The search giant has announced it will not submit a bid to win the multibillion-dollar contract with the U.S. Defense Department, reports Reuters.

Google opted out of the JEDI bidding on October 8, claiming the contract might fail to align with its AI principles - and (more importantly) because it didn't have some of the required government certifications. The protest was filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) days before the bidding process closes.

Google came under fire when details about the company working with the Pentagon first went public back in June.

The Tech Workers Coalition, which advocates for giving employees a say in technology company decisions, said in a statement that Google's decision to withdraw from the cloud competition stemmed from "sustained" pressure from tech workers who "have significant power, and are increasingly willing to use it". The company later said it would entirely ban the development of AI software that can be used in weapons systems. They have also said the JEDI cloud would be used as a springboard for not-yet-developed military systems.

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The JEDI contract has been a source of controversy in the past, but that was mostly due to the DOD's decision to award it to a single cloud service provider.

Google is taking a pass at a potential $10 billion contract.

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) said on Tuesday its expanded Azure cloud service to help government clients save data on their own servers would be available by the end of the first quarter of 2019, as it battles with Amazon.com for a $10 billion Pentagon contract.

The contract is winner-take-all, with Amazon seen as the frontrunner. IBM, Microsoft and Oracle have sharply criticized that approach and even mounted lawsuits seeking to overturn it, arguing that the project is unfairly tilted in Amazon's favor.

Google told Bloomberg: "had the JEDI contract been open to multiple vendors, we would have submitted a compelling solution for portions of it. Google Cloud believes that a multi-cloud approach is in the best interest of government agencies, because it allows them to choose the right cloud for the right workload". Competitors are anxious that Amazon has an inside track to the JEDI award because it has been the CIA's primary cloud provider for years and because the Pentagon's request for proposals includes highly specific requirements that only Amazon is likely to meet.

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