Google Apps failing LAPD, says advocacy group

Google calls allegation 'latest in a long list of press stunts'


A consumer advocacy group yesterday released documents it has obtained that indicate that CSC, the prime contractor for Google Apps services for Los Angeles, has allegedly not managed to meet the security requirements of the Los Angeles Police Department.

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The group, Consumer Watchdog, released what appears to be a letter from Randi Levin, general manager of the information technology agency for the City of Los Angeles, written on Aug. 17 to Michael Schneider, senior manager of contracts and subcontracts at CSC, that indicates CSC is unable to implement Google Apps for Government for the city in a way that meets security requirements of the LAPD and other safety-related departments. The Google Apps contract with Los Angeles is a closely watched project based on a $7.25 million contract to CSC in 2009 that was bitterly fought with Microsoft.

In a statement, CSC said it has “successfully migrated all of the City of Los Angeles’s employees, except those with the City law enforcement agencies, to the new Google Apps cloud computing solution,” and “subsequent to the award of the original contract, the City identified significant new security requirements for the Police Department. CSC and Google worked closely with the City to evaluate and eventually implement the additional data security requirements, which are related to criminal justice services information, and we’re still working together on one final security requirement.”

For its part, Google issued a statement saying, "This is just the latest in a long list of press stunts from a group that admits to working closely with our competitors. We are meeting our commitments to the City of Los Angeles. Indeed, the City recently renewed their Google Apps contract for 17,000 employees, and the project is expected to save Los Angeles taxpayers millions of dollars."

Google went on to state, "The City has acknowledged Google Apps is more secure than its current system. Along the way, they've introduced new requirements which require work to implement in a cloud-computing environment, and we've presented a plan to meet them at no additional cost."

Consumer Watch, however, asserts the letter from Levin indicates "broken promises and missed deadlines."

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According to the Levin letter, CSC "indicates it is unable to meet the security requirements of the city and Los Angeles police department (LAPD)" related to data and information. A legal document is attached with the letter proposing an amendment between CSC and the city. In it, CSC is asked "to complete and comply with the security requirements." In addition, the city's execution of the amendment "will be subject to prior City Council approval," Levin writes.

In its own letter yesterday to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Consumer Watchdog claims the letter from Levin to CSC indicates "Google is in breach of the $7.25 million contract and has repeatedly failed to meet deadlines and live up to its promises. CSC is installing the Google system and is technically the prime contractor on the project. While the City has kept Google's breaches of its contract quiet, the Internet giant has held Los Angeles out as a model for securing municipal, state and governmental agencies based on the false promise that it could satisfy the needs of the second largest city in America." This letter is signed by Jamie Court, Consumer watchdog president, and John M. Simpson, the group's privacy project director.

Consumer Watchdog is asking Villaraigosa to immediately disclose "the extent to which Google has failed to comply with its contractual obligations in the project that was launched two years ago."

Further, Consumer Watchdog says the original contract, signed in November 2009, to "put about 30,000 city employees on the Google system," was amended in August 2010 to require Google to "pay the City for the costs of operating the [Novell] GroupWise system that the police department would continue to use through June 30, 2011. However, in May, Google said it would be unable to complete the transition and comply with the city's security requirements." The proposed amendment sent by Levin proposed CSC and Google paying for Novell GroupWise for the city through November 2012.

Consumer Watchdog asserts that "a mere 17,000 city employees use the Google system while 13,000 LAPD and other employees involved in law enforcement cannot make the move." Consumer Watchdog concludes: "Google's record with the city is nothing but broken promises and missed deadlines."

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