Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work discusses the reasons why Google pulled out of the competition for the Pentagon’s enterprise cloud, and why relations are currently strained between the two organizations.
Google has pulled out of the competitive Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract. A spokesperson for the tech giant said that they couldn’t be sure that JEDI would align with their “AI principles.” The action has several parallels with the company’s decision to drop out of Project Maven. According to former Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, this has further strained the relationship between the military and Silicon Valley. “The relationship between Google and the Department of Defense is quite fraught right now,” Work said. “Google apparently has the position that ‘We will come to the Department of Defense and we will determine whether or not you meet our standards.’ And that is totally okay. That’s their prerogative as a company. If they want to work with the United States government and want to help in our national defense, they should say, ‘Okay, here is where we are concerned. Can you tell us how this is going to be used so we can align this with our principles?” Work says that Google’s real issue wasn’t AI, but in getting the proper permits to be a DoD contractor. “One of the requirements was they had to be FedRAMP certified… [that requires] you to have specific security requirements in your cloud. It is based on NIST requirements. Google didn’t go through that certification process. Oops, their bad. End of story,” Work told Government Matters. “In my view, that’s what they should have said. To say that the cloud isn’t compatible with their AI principles is a giant smokescreen.”