Bidding on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) began approximately two months ago, currently, the lead contender to receive the contract is Amazon who previously worked for the Central Intelligence Agency setting up their cloud but a number of other companies are involved in the bidding including Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM.
The contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI for short, calls for a massive cloud-computing system that can handle classified USA military data and enable new defense capabilities.
Google's announcement comes just months after the company decided not to re-up its contract with a Pentagon AI program, when protests broke out from employees who didn't think Google should be in "the business of war".
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. "We will continue to pursue strategic work to help state, local and federal customers modernize their infrastructure and meet their mission critical requirements".
Google is undergoing a broader reckoning over how the company's artificial intelligence algorithms, which are some of the most advanced in the world, should be applied to the work of national defense. As only one company will be awarded the contract, Amazon is seen as the frontrunner.
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Google says it chose not to compete for the contract because it believes this work would conflict with its corporate principles, and because it believes it may not hold all of the necessary certifications. The protest was filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) days before the bidding process closes.
"Had the JEDI contract been open to multiple vendors, we would have submitted a compelling solution for portions of it", the Google spokesman said.
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.
The contract is winner-take-all, with Amazon seen as the frontrunner.
Google has dropped out of the race for the Department of Defense's $10 billion, 10-year cloud contract, but Microsoft is still all-in.