WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Defense is on track to award its pivotal Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability contract by the end of the year, after missing a previous deadline, a Pentagon official said.

“December 2022 is still the date we’re aiming for, for awards,” Lily Zeleke, an acting deputy chief information officer, said at an Oct. 5 event hosted by Federal News Network. “I can tell you we’re progressing well, and we anticipate to meet that date.”

The contract, known as JWCC, is a potential $9 billion successor to the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure arrangement, or JEDI, which the Pentagon awarded to Microsoft after years of delays and then abandoned in 2021. The cancellation came amid accusations from rival Amazon that the Trump administration tainted the competition.

The Defense Department is working to institute the follow-up JWCC as pressure builds to more effectively process data and seamlessly connect forces across land, air, sea, space and cyber, a concept dubbed Joint All-Domain Command and Control.

JWCC is meant to link the military’s most remote edge with its farthest headquarters, bridging unclassified, secret and top-secret classifications. No such ability now exists, officials say.

“It’s actually really exciting to have that coming forth, because it’s imperative to our ability to do Joint All-Domain Command and Control, JADC2, as you’ve heard,” Zeleke said. “We’ve also learned over the years that we’ve been doing cloud that it’s imperative that we do our due diligence, and we pivot when necessary, to make sure that we are going to arrive at something that is going to meet the warfighters’ needs, the stakeholders’ needs.”

The award window for JWCC, advertised for April, was pushed back earlier this year. Pentagon CIO John Sherman in March disclosed additional due diligence was required. He has since told Congress that implementing JWCC is a top priority.

The Pentagon contacted Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Oracle last year about JWCC, emphasizing that only a few companies could satisfy the program’s requirements.

Initial JWCC contracts are expected to comprise a three-year base with one-year options.

Zeleke on Wednesday described the process as a “complex technical matter” with many moving parts.

“I really believe pivoting and sort of taking the right time to get to where we need to get to, in the right way, is a necessary step,” she said. “And that is really what the department is doing.”

Colin Demarest was a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covered military networks, cyber and IT. Colin had previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.

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