(Updates with comment from Google)
The Central Intelligence Agency has awarded a secretive multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract to multiple U.S. cloud computing companies, which will deliver storage, processing, and add-on services, such as machine learning, for U.S. spy agencies over the next 15 years.
“We are excited to work with the multiple industry partners awarded the Intelligence Community (IC) Commercial Cloud Enterprise (C2E) Cloud Service Provider (CSP) contract and look forward to utilizing, alongside our IC colleagues, the expanded cloud capabilities resulting from this diversified partnership,” CIA spokesman Luis Rosello wrote in an email to Bloomberg Government.
The contract will be available to all 17 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence sector and could generate “tens of billions” of dollars in spending over its lifespan, according to a 2019 CIA briefing to industry.
Separate reports from Federal News Network and Nextgov named five awardees on C2E: Amazon Web Services Inc., Microsoft Corp., International Business Machines Corp., Oracle Corp., and Google Inc. The CIA would not confirm how many companies received awards or who the awardees were.
A Microsoft spokesperson did confirm the Redmond, Wa.-based company’s participation in the C2E program in a statement to Bloomberg Government: “We appreciate that the Government has chosen Microsoft and are eager to serve as an integral partner in supporting its overall mission.”
Google also confirmed it had won a contract. “We’re proud to have been named a vendor for the Commercial Cloud Enterprise contract (C2E),” a spokesperson told Bloomberg Government.
An AWS spokesperson reached by Bloomberg Government wouldn’t confirm the company’s win, but acknowledged its ongoing work with the intelligence sector. “We are honored to continue to support the intelligence community as they expand their transformational use of cloud computing,” they wrote in an email.
The contract represents one of the federal government’s boldest steps into cloud computing to date. The CIA was among the government’s earliest adopters when in 2013 it awarded a $600 million contract to Amazon Web Services. C2E is a larger prize, in dollar terms, than even the Defense Department’s $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, cloud contract.
The CIA’s decision to award multiple contracts approach may stem from recent technological advances that enable organizations to manage their resources across multiple cloud systems. The Army and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have issued similar cloud solicitations requiring multi-cloud management services.
The CIA’s approach may also help it deflect the type of controversy seen with previous large-scale cloud computing deals. The Pentagon’s winner-take-all JEDI contract prompted legal challenges from Oracle, IBM, and Amazon. Now almost two and a half years since the Pentagon opened bidding on the contract, and more than a year since it awarded the contract to Microsoft, JEDI remains in legal limbo.
In addition to the awards issued to multiple cloud providers, the CIA may also be in the market for cloud integration and support services offered by traditional federal contractors. In the same 2019 briefing, CIA officials announced they would seek “professional services to support the use of C2E,” as well as “expert consulting on cloud architecture, infrastructure, development, integration, and security.”
— With assistance from Naomi Nix.
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