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Los Angeles Undertakes Massive Website Relaunch with Drupal

The City of Angels has cemented a deal with Acquia to use its open source CMS to manage 20-plus websites.

On Thursday, Aug. 21, the city of Los Angeles announced plans to replace its city-run websites with a set of open sourced alternatives.

Ted Ross, the city’s assistant general manager for technology solutions, confirmed the deal brokered between Acquia, the tech firm known for its Drupal content management system, and the Los Angeles Information Technology Agency (ITA), which is coordinating the project. The announcement follows nearly a year of research and talks with Acquia and ends the city's partnership with Oracle and its legacy CMS “Stellent.”

“As the second largest city in the United States, almost 4 million people depend on our Web presence to access important city services and information,” Ross said in a statement.  “[Acquia] is letting us quickly scale our digital presence and increase citizen access to services, while ensuring a consistent experience for the city’s visitors.”

There are more than 20 websites to relaunch through the Drupal overhaul, with the most visited sites — the city’s home page, public television channel, and its transportation department — slated for first releases. The city sites join the Los Angeles Public Library, the LA Philharmonic and the Visit Los Angeles tourism site, all of which are already on Drupal.

No specific dates were given for estimated relaunches, and in email, Ross said the city did not wish to say more about the development until the first sites were closer to completion.  

However, Todd Akers, Acquia's vice president of public sector development, said the collaboration was a huge win for company that now has the state of New York, the city of San Francisco and a variety of federal agencies on the open sourced Drupal platform.

"The fact that these major players are choosing to work with Acquia is a very nice validation of the quality of our services and quality of our platform, and that the message were bringing to market is just resonating,” he said.

Questioned about what brought on the selection, Akers explained that the process was far from an overnight decision, and was well vetted. As with its other government clients, Akers said the selling point for a Drupal-based website is customization and an independence from proprietary technology -- which may or may not fit with specific needs and leaves governments dependent on vendors for help.

“This is clearly a very nice win for us, we worked extremely hard," Akers said, "and the city was very determined to make sure they turned over every rock in their analysis."

Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.