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Los Angeles Axes Plans to Add Police Email to Google Cloud

City officials believe that the security requirements needed by law enforcement were not met by Google’s cloud technology.

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Dec. 14 to cancel a move that would have put the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and other criminal justice personnel on Google’s cloud-based email system.

While the city’s other employees will stay on Google’s Gmail, city officials believe that the security requirements needed by law enforcement were not met by Google’s cloud technology. The city’s $7.2 million contract with systems integrator CSC — signed in 2009 to move all 30,000 city employee email accounts from Novell GroupWise to Gmail — will be modified so that the LAPD and others that need heightened security will remain on in-house email.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Google will pay $350,000 per year for those employees to use the Novell system. 

The issues surrounding the Google Apps deal with Los Angeles came to a head in October, when Santa Monica, Calif.-based Consumer Watchdog released on its website a letter from Los Angeles CTO Randi Levin to systems integrator CSC that formally requested that CSC refund to Los Angeles money spent on seat licenses and migration costs associated with moving its law enforcement and criminal justice personnel to Google’s cloud product.

Since then, Google has said the security requirements were not part of the original contract and the issue was raised long after the deal was signed.

“We’re disappointed that the city introduced requirements for the LAPD after the contract was signed that are, in its own words, ‘currently incompatible with cloud computing,’” said a spokesman for Google, in an email statement to Government Technology, adding that by moving to the cloud, taxpayers in Los Angeles have already saved more than $2 million since the deal was signed.

In an interview with Government Technology’s Matt Williams in October, Levin said there was one issue outstanding that must be resolved for Google Apps to be fully compliant with the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services requirements for data storage and security. She didn’t divulge publicly what the unresolved problem was, however.
“The real issue here is the fact that the policies related to a lot of different areas in the government are not matching the technologies that are coming out,” Levin said in October. “That is the core issue: The criminal justice requirements were never written with cloud computing in mind.”