by the Council that asks the city to negotiate "liquidated liability" in case of a security breach.

Councilman Bernard Parks said he was troubled that the foundation of L.A.'s Gmail system -- a self-contained "government cloud" that Google says will mirror its widely used commercial offering -- hasn't yet been launched.

City Council President Eric Garcetti said that there was "no question" that the city should move into cloud computing, whether it be with Google, Novell, Microsoft or another company.

Public Safety Onboard

Levin has convinced the L.A. Fire and Police departments to back the plan, after some initial pushback. She said the U.S. Department of Justice approves of the technical specifications of the project -- a concern for law enforcement agencies that deliver potentially sensitive and confidential information to the DOJ.

Levin said Google offers security expertise that the city can't match. The L.A. Information Technology Agency has lost three system administrators in the past few weeks who have expertise with GroupWise, Levin said, adding that it would be increasingly difficult to find enough in-house expertise to sustain the current system going forward.

Google says it's in the process of earning Federal Information Security Management Act certification for Gmail and its other services.

Matt Williams  |  Associate Editor