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October 9, 2018

Google withdraws its bid for Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud contract

by John_A

Google says the project doesn’t align with its AI principles.

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The Pentagon is currently soliciting bids for a $10 billion cloud computing contract that will involve shifting vast troves of data from the Department of Defense to a commercial cloud. Google was one of the tech giants angling for the project, along with Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and others, but today the company announced that it is withdrawing its bid.

Without going into details, Google said that the contract doesn’t “align” with the company’s AI principles. This isn’t the first time Google pulled out of a government contract; earlier this year, the company ceased its role in the Pentagon’s Project Maven AI drone project after continued backlash from its employees.

Shortly thereafter, Google published a set of AI principles that guide how the company uses its AI tools. In a statement to Bloomberg, a Google spokesman said:

We are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn’t be assured that it would align with our AI Principles. And second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications.

Google said that it would have competed for “portions” of the contract, but with the Pentagon seeking a single vendor, the company had no option but to withdraw its bid:

Had the JEDI contract been open to multiple vendors, we would have submitted a compelling solution for portions of it. Google Cloud believes that a multi-cloud approach is in the best interest of government agencies, because it allows them to choose the right cloud for the right workload.

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