Google is reportedly aggressively looking for a lucrative Pentagon contract, despite protests by employees that had forced it to drop certain projects.

The Google cloud unit’s chief executive, Thomas Kurian, met with top Pentagon officials to make the case that the company is best suited for the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract, according to the New York Times. 

JWCC is the successor program to the contentious $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud, or JEDI, contract, which the Pentagon canceled in July following a furious dispute between Amazon and Microsoft over how the contract was awarded.

Employee protests forced Google, three years ago, to withdraw from the JEDI contract race and to cancel Project Maven, which used Artificial Intelligence to improve drone strike targeting.

A spokesperson for Google said Wednesday that the company is committed to serving the public sector, including the DoD. She also stated that future bid opportunities will be evaluated accordingly. 

Google cloud unit's chief executive, Thomas Kurian

Air Force Chief of Staff Charles Q. Brown, Jr

The Google cloud unit’s chief executive, Thomas Kurian (left), reportedly met with top Pentagon officials including Air Force Chief of Staff Charles Q. Brown, Jr (right) on Tuesday to make the case in the company’s bid for the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract

Google runs the risk of infuriating left-leaning activists by seeking the JWCC agreement. These activists were the ones who torpedoed prior deals with DoD. 

Google won Maven in September 2017. However, it decided to keep the deal secret from its employees. 

Employees started to protest Maven’s leakage, citing Maven’s old slogan, ‘don’t be evil’.

The then-head of Google’s cloud division, Diane Greene, responded by locking down mailing lists, deleting documents, or asking employees to redact Google+ posts, according to Wired.

Google had to drop its JEDI bid due to internal problems. Maven was seen as a way to get in the door at Pentagon.

Google’s cloud division, however, has not stopped quietly seeking out less controversial partnerships with DoD.

These projects include a virtual system to train Air Force pilots, a cloud-based management solution to combat cyber threats and support to efforts to reduce corrosion costs on Navy vessels.

Sources close to the company tell that Google believes it has a strong bid to participate in JWCC, and plans to tout its data analytics capabilities that could help predict and monitor trends like global stability, the financial impact of pandemics, and climate change.

In pursuing the new JWCC deal, Google now risks infuriating the left-leaning activists among its employees, who successfully torpedoed the prior deals with DoD

Google is now at risk of angering left-leaning activists within its workforce by pursuing the JWCC deal. They have successfully torpedoed previous deals with DoD.

JEDI was eventually reduced to just two players, Amazon, and Microsoft. Microsoft’s award was cancelled amid a furious row.

The contract was sought after not only for its dollar value but also for its prestige. For years, both companies tried to persuade governments and businesses that it was safe to transfer computing work to their data centers. 

Analysts said that meeting all security requirements of the U.S. Military would have been a visible stamp indicating approval that could be used to influence other corporate and government clients. 

But the Trump-era Microsoft award sparked accusations that Microsoft was seeking political retaliation for Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder).

Trump had publicly mocked Jeff Bezos, then-Amazon CEO, and repeatedly criticised the company. 

Amazon claimed that the 2019 Pentagon award to Microsoft was full ‘egregious mistakes’, which it suggested were due to ‘improper pressure’ from Trump. 

The company cited a 2019 book claiming that Trump had ordered the Defense Department to “screw Amazon”. 

Trump wanted a single provider. The Biden administration said it would likely split the project among multiple companies. In July, the JEDI deal was canceled.

This move would make the military more in line to private-sector firms, many of which have split their cloud computing work between multiple vendors to avoid being locked into one. 

Google CEO Sundar Pichai is seen in a file photo. JEDI eventually came down to two players, Amazon and Microsoft, before Microsoft's award was canceled amid a furious row

Sundar Pichai (Google CEO) is seen in a file photograph. JEDI came down to just two players, Amazon & Microsoft, before Microsoft’s award, which was canceled amid a furious dispute, was cancelled.

John Sherman, DoD Chief of Information Officer, stated that when the Pentagon announced the JWCC agreement in July, the department would not only reach out to Amazon and Microsoft, but also to IBM, Oracle, Google and Google. 

Sherman stated that the department plans to contract for a multi-award cloud solution with multi-vendor vendors by April 2022. This will include a three-year performance base and two option periods of one year. 

A Google spokesperson stated that Wednesday’s statement contained the following: “We strongly believe that a multi-cloud strategy provides the department the best solution now and in the future.”

The statement stated that “We are firmly dedicated to serving our public-sector customers, including DoD, Department of Energy and NIH, as well as many other government agencies, and will evaluate any future opportunities accordingly.” 

Microsoft stated in a statement that it was confident it would ‘continue being successful as the DoD selects partner for new work’. Sherman suggested that Microsoft could submit an offer to terminate the contract in order to recover costs from the abandoned project.

Amazon’s cloud unit Amazon Web Services (AWS), said it was in agreement with the Pentagon’s decision not to renew the contract. 

Amazon claimed that the initial award was not based on merits but was instead the result of an outside influence that is prohibited in government procurement. 

AWS added it looks ‘forward to continuing to support the DoD´s modernization efforts and building solutions that help accomplish their critical missions.’