House Appropriators Take Aim at Some of the Pentagon’s Most Ambitious Tech Ideas

House Appropriators Take Aim at Some of the Pentagon’s Most Ambitious Tech Ideas

A $10 billion data cloud, giant ray guns in space, a sixth-generation fighter jet—these are just some of the biggest ideas out of the Pentagon in the last several years. But they’ve failed to impress the House Appropriations Committee, which released its version of the 2020 defense spending bill report yesterday.


The biggest hit may be to the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, a program that seeks to hire a commercial cloud provider to house a large portion of the Defense Department’s data. The appropriators said the proposed contract deviates from Office of Management and Budget, or OMB, best practices “and may be failing to implement a strategy that lowers costs and fully supports data innovation for the warfighter.” Therefore, the report says, “the Committee directs that no funds may be obligated or expended to migrate data and applications to the JEDI cloud” until the Defense Department starts sending regular reports on how the JEDI program will be changed to comply with OMB guidelines.


The committee also chopped $42 million out of the $208 million request for Joint Advanced Artificial Intelligence, presumably connected somehow to the Department's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, which seeks to harmonize AI efforts across the department, bringing the number down to $166 million.


The appropriators stripped all but $17 million from the Defense Innovation Unit, or DIU’s, $92 million request for advanced prototyping as part of the unit’s National Security Innovation Capital effort. The program, authorized in the 2019 defense authorization act, is to “make investments in dual-use hardware and strengthen U.S. supply chains where they are most vulnerable.”


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